India became the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of the ICC World Twenty20 after a thumping eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh in a Group 2 match, in Mirpur, on Friday.
After restricting the hosts to 138 for 7, courtesy yet another dominating performance by the spinners, their batsmen hit up the required runs easily, with nine balls to spare.
Leggie Amit Mishra (3-26) and off-spinner R Ashwin (2-15) shared five wickets between them to set up the fluent victory.
This was India’s third successive victory in the competition. It put them on top of the group with six points and a match to go against Australia, who are more or less out of the semi-final race.
The last-four berth is also their first since the inaugural edition in South Africa, back in 2007.
Save Shikhar Dhawan’s (1) early departure, it was smooth sailing for the ‘Men in Blue’, as Rohit Sharma (56) and Virat Kohli (57) posted their second successive half-centuries in the tournament.
The duo added 100 runs in a second-wicket partnership.
Rohit faced 44 balls in his knock, hitting five fours and a six, while Virat took 50 deliveries for his 57, helping himself with three fours and a six in the process.
Such is the duo's domination in the tournament that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was desperately in need of ‘batting practice’ in a match situation, had to promote himself up the order.
Dhoni (22 off 12) finished it off the match in style, hitting a straight six off Ziaur Rahman.
Two shots in the Indian innings stood out. They were the sixes by Rohit and Kohli respectively. The first was a bouncer from Al-Amin Hossain, which Rohit hooked deep into the lower tier of the Shere Bangla Stadium.
The second was an effortless loft over extra-cover by Kohli off the same pacer. The two hits showed the gulf in standards between the two teams.
It was not easy to bowl under lights as the home team bowlers found out. It seemed that Bangladesh had lost the zeal to compete after their mauling at the hands of the West Indies.
There were a couple of difficult skiers offered by Rohit, but Sohag Gazi and Anamul Haque made a mess of them.
Their bowlers and fielders were happy to go through the motions as the match did not have any element of excitement like the afternoon humdinger between the West Indies and Australia.
Earlier, Ashwin was yet again at his parsimonious best while Mishra’s dream run in the marquee event continued.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled tidily to give away only 21 in his three overs and dismissed their top player Shakib Al Hasan.
For Bangladesh, all-rounder Mahmudullah finally came good as he blasted unbeaten 33 off 23 balls with five fours and a six to give his team’s total a decent look.
Mahmudullah added 49 runs for the sixth wicket with Nasir Hossain (16).
Opener Anamul Haque (44) played well at the top while skipper Mushfiqur Rahim (24) failed to convert the start that he got.
Tamim Iqbal’s (4) tournament got from bad to worse as he was out in a soft manner, pushing at a flighted delivery from Ashwin that turned after pitching. Suresh Raina took the catch at the first slip.
Shamsur Rahman (0) was out off the very next ball with an atrocious cross-batted heave. He found out the only man outside the circle on the leg-side. Rohit Sharma had little difficulty in taking the catch running forward from his deep mid-wicket position.
Ashwin was on a hat-trick but Shakib stopped the Tamil Nadu tweaker from reaching the milestone.
Shakib (1) however did not last long as he was played on off Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s delivery with Bangladesh were reeling at 21 for three within the first five overs.
Anamul along with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim started a repair job. Rahim hit Jadeja for a couple of boundaries including a slog-swept boundary that brought the team’s 50 up in the ninth over.
Rahim (24), however, played a loose shot and was caught by a diving Virat Kohli at mid-on position. Anamul-Rahim partnership yielded 46 runs for the fourth wicket.
Anamul hit some eye-catching boundaries off spinners. His favourite area of attack was the cover and extra cover region. A couple of boundaries off Shami and Bhuvneshwar were delightful strokes. He also hit Shami over long-off for a six and got a maximum, hitting Jadeja inside-out over extra-cover.
But, on 44, Mishra bowled back-to-back googlies which he failed to read. The first one went for four byes but the second one was good enough to light on the LED stumps. He faced 43 balls with five fours and two sixes.
Half of the team was back in the dug-out by the end of the 13th over with only 82 on board.
Image: Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni embrace after clinching victory over Bangladesh on Friday.
Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images