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Bangladesh no match for India
Faisal Shariff |
April 11, 2003 20:16 IST
Bowling Bangladesh out for their lowest-ever total of 76, India won the opening game of the TVS Cup by 200 runs, and in the process registered their biggest win in one-day cricket history, at the Bangabandhu stadium, in Dhaka, on Friday.
Without the services of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Javagal Srinath and Ashish Nehra, India not only maintained the good form it displayed at the World Cup in South Africa, but also proved it has bench strength that is competent enough.
The day belonged to Yuvraj Singh, who finally broke the jinx of missing out on a hundred. Scoring his maiden one-day hundred, after 13 half-centuries, he must have breathed easy. Coming in at number six made the mission more difficult for the left-hander. A brief discussion with psychologist Sandy Gordon triggered the turnaround as he decided to concentrate more on finishing games rather than looking to get into three-figure scores. No sooner did he stop worrying about it than he achieved the coveted mark.
The fact that the century came against a weak and pedestrian Bangladesh bowling attack -- many of their bowlers would struggle to get into a team in Mumbai's Kanga League -- should not take away anything from Yuvraj's exploits. Batting in temperatures that touched the wrong side of 45 degrees must have been gruelling. At 172 for 6 in the 38th over, it seemed that India would struggle to get past the 225-run mark. But Ajit Agarkar joined Yuvraj and a rollicking celebration followed. 92 runs were scored off 57 balls as the duo sent the ball smashing into the advertising boards with amazing alacrity.
India finished on 276 for 9, with Yuvraj on an undefeated 102 off 85 balls.
Skipper Sourav Ganguly won the toss and decided to bat. Debutant opener Gautam Gambhir faced 22 balls, impressed with his strokes off the back-foot -- the pull for four through mid-wicket standing out -- and was caught behind while opening the face of the bat.
Opportunities for Gambhir are few, but the fact that he has another game against Bangladesh and another two against a South Africa outfit that is in the rebuilding process should make him doubly determined to cement his place in the side with runs. Though it is too early to pass any verdict on the left-hander, the remaining three games will prove if Gambhir can walk the talk that earned him the place in the national squad.
Vice-captain Virender Sehwag batted with caution, getting the measure of the wicket, and slowly got back into business on the low-bounce Dhaka wicket with a barrage of strokes. Reaching his fifty with a huge six, he was unlucky to be adjudged leg before to spinner Mohammad Rafique.
His 44-ball knock was dominated with strokes on the leg-side. It set the base for a 300-run total. The slowness of the wicket though prevented that from happening as Khalid Mahmud, the latest Bangladesh captain, introduced slow bowlers from both ends.
Alok Kapali let off Ganguly when on 11, at backward point, and, as it often happens, the skipper celebrated his reprieve by slamming two huge sixes.
It was difficult to determine which was worse: the Bangladeshi bowling or fielding. Their fielders dropped sitters, were miserable with their groundwork, while the bowlers lacked the basic fundamentals of bowling.
Barring a brief spell, when three Indian wickets fell for the addition of 28 runs, the Indian batsmen were always in charge.
Dinesh Mongia failed to get going and it seems only fair to include Abhijeet Kale or Sanjay Bangar in his place for the next game against South Africa.
India, in the absence of Dravid, had to forego the seven batsmen formula and play six batsmen to accommodate stumper Parthiv Patel in the side.
The highlight of the innings was the partnership between Agarkar and Yuvraj that helped India reach 276. With four wickets falling in the final four overs, India failed to reach the 300-run mark, though, for a side that has managed to bat out their full quota of fifty overs only thrice in the last 20 games, it seemed adequate.
Yuvraj, with his hundred -- it had nine fours and four sixes -- and the way he went about pacing his innings with wickets falling at the other end has pushed his case to be promoted up the order ahead of Mohammad Kaif, who is clearly besieged with his batting problems. Kaif's running between the wickets is second to none and as the quickest fielder in the side he saves 15-20 runs in every game, but it is his batting which seems to have hit a plateau and, for the time being, dropping him at number five seems the right thing to do.
The Bangladeshis never seemed serious about the chase, losing wickets faster than Saddam Hussain was losing his hold over Iraq. But latest pace hopeful from Mumbai Aavishkar Salvi was the cynosure when India took the field. Having idolized and patterned his bowling around Australian fast bowler Glen McGrath, the Mumbaikar nipped his first international wicket in his very first over.
Opener Mehrab Hossain was trapped leg-before by Salvi with his fifth delivery, vindicating Ganguly's move to give him the new ball.
Zaheer Khan flummoxed Tushar Imran, who chose to shoulder arms to a ball that clipped his off stump. Salvi snapped up the third wicket as Bangladesh were 11-3 inside the first five overs.
Salvi's run-up and delivery stride is a photocopy of McGrath's. Bowling at speeds of 135 kmph and above, he could well be the weapon that could complete the Indian bowling armoury for Australia later this year. Bowling from close to the stumps, he moves the ball appreciably with his skiddy pace. On pitches that are more conducive to bowlers, he could be an effective bowling partner for Zaheer Khan after Javagal Srinath fades away.
Agarkar returned to the playing eleven and picked three wickets without a single delivery drifting down leg to showcase that he is far from finished. An encore against South Africa would augur well for the Indian bowling department.
Bowling Bangladesh out for less that 100 inside 30 overs has given India the perfect setting to take on South Africa on Sunday.