A lot was being expected from Bangladesh after they were made to bat first by India in their Champions Trophy encounter on Thursday. As a matter of fact, no one really expected the perennial underachievers to enter the semis. However, the surprise win over New Zealand and some luck, thanks to the rain which affected Group A matches, helped the Bangla Tigers enter their first ever semi-final of any ICC tournament.
However, their dream to face Pakistan in the final came crashing down on Thursday, as they were easily beaten by defending champions India by nine wickets on Thursday. Chasing a modest 265, Rohit Sharma, who remained unbeaten on 123, formed a 178-run partnership with skipper Virat Kohli (96) to see India through.
Nevertheless, at least the first innings had its fair share of drama that could have turned the tide of the game in anybody's favour. Here are the biggest turning points of the match:
Bangladesh lost Soumya Sarkar in the first over after he tried to drive Bhuvneshwar Kumar's delivery but only managed to drag the ball onto his stumps. In the seventh over, an aggressive Sabbir Rahman holed out to Ravindra Jadeja at backward point. With the scorecard reading 31/2, it was advantage India. Even Tamim Iqbal, their batting mainstay in the tournament, was finding it difficult to get bat on ball.
Tamim-Rahim stabilise the innings
But then Mushfiqur Rahim came to the crease and began the counter-attack, hitting Bhuvneshwar for two consecutive fours. In the 13th over, Hardik Pandya was smashed for 14 runs. The tempo was now set and Tamim, who was struggling in the powerplay overs, was finally getting his feet moving. A combination of good running between the wickets and occasional aggression — often in the form of unconventional cricket shots like the 'dilscoop' — ensured the that the team reached 150 by the 27th over. Both had completed their individual half centuries as Bangladesh looked set to post a 300-plus score.
Kedar Jadhav into the attack
Part-timer Kedar Jadhav's introduction was a surprise move to break the partnership. His round arm off-spin first rattled Tamim's timber, who completely missed the ball while attempting a slog sweep. A while later, Jadeja — buoyed by Jadhav's tight spell — scalped Shakib Al Hasan, caught by MS Dhoni while going for the cut against the spinner.
But India were not yet in the driver's seat. That moment came on the second ball of the 36th over, when Rahim tried to hit Jadhav, and was caught by the skipper. Bangladesh had lost half their side now and a mammoth total looked increasingly improbable.
Jadhav's six-over spell dried the boundaries. He was ably supported by Jadeja, who took over the mantle from the all-rounder after he had done the damage. Jadhav's spell provided the much needed momentum to India. Before Jadhav came into the attack, Jadeja had taken no wickets but conceded 25 runs in four overs. Bowling in tandem with Jadhav, he gave away just 23 runs in his remaining six overs, taking the wicket of Shakib.
Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar keep things tight
But given the presence of the dangerous Mahmudullah and pinch-hitter Mossadek Hossain in their ranks, Bangladesh could have still mounted a fightback despite losing five wickets. Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar made sure that Bangladesh didn't get away. Two crippling blows from Bumrah, in the form of Mahmudullah and Hossain, forced Bangladesh to play to save their innings from ending abruptly.
A barrage of short-pitched deliveries, bouncers and toe-crushing yorkers in the slog overs helped India keep tailenders Taskin Ahmed and Mashrafe Mortaza — who is a handy lower-order batsman — from going berserk. Occasional edges did go to the fence due to some sloppy field work but the besieged Bangladeshi players largely failed to connect bat to ball.
Bumrah's two wickets and Kumar's disciplined bowling ensured Bangladesh could only score 57 runs in the slog overs.
Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma continued their sublime touch with the bat, as the duo raced to 63 for no loss in 10 overs. Dhawan was the dominant partner in the partnership, standing on his crease and delivering the punch at will. Rohit, as usual, began slow but gained momentum as the partnership matured.
Except for a moment in Taskin's first over, when an edge off Rohit's bat just fell short of the slip fielder, it was largely risk-free batting at its best.
Rohit carried on after Dhawan perished on 46, while Kohli began upping the ante against the bowlers. Mostly avoiding the aerial route, the duo focussed on rotating the strike. The boundaries came at regular intervals, keeping the run-rate above six for most part of the innings and helping India cruise to an easy win. The easy win will also bode well for the final when India take on Pakistan on Sunday.