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Bangladesh advance, India exit
Prem Panicker | March 26, 2007 03:27 IST
Last Updated: March 26, 2007 03:44 IST
India were eliminated from the World Cup on Sunday after Bangladesh beat debutants Bermuda by seven wickets in a rain-shortened Group B match in Port of Spain.
Bangladesh made sure of a Super Eight berth after finishing second in the group behind leaders Sri Lanka.
For India, the 1983 champions and finalists four years ago, it was their earliest exit since 1992 after losing two of their three matches in the first round.Bermuda, in its final appearance in World Cup 2007, found itself in the position of a marathon runner who, having set himself for the long haul and eased into the run, was suddenly told he was in an Olympic sprint.
From the moment Habibul Basher won the toss and gleefully opted to bowl first under overcast skies - the toss, delayed by rain, itself took place in a slight drizzle - and dream conditions for seamers exacerbated by a cracked pitch, Bermuda never quite knew what kind of game it was in.
They came out, lost a wicket, went back in, came out and lost another wicket, went back in, came back out - and each time they were forced back into the hut by rain, the overs kept decreasing until, finally, it effectively became a 21-over game.
Mashrafe Mortaza in particular reveled in the conditions, getting the ball to bend both ways at pace; the juice on the deck gave him that bit of extra bounce, by way of bonus.
It was Syed Rasel, however, who dealt the biggest blow, with a delivery outside off that David Kemp, the most credentialed of Bermudan batsmen, cut straight to Aftab Ahmed at backward point.
Between the third and fourth rain interruptions, Bashar brought on spin in the form of Abdur Razzak, and the left armer struck back after being hit for two fours on the trot, by firing one in at speed and on a full length to trap Bermuda's captain Irvine Romaine bang in front.
Bermuda went in on 45/4 and when it came back out to resume the innings, the overs had been reduced to 21 and the batting side was left with no option but to slog. Wickets and fours and mishits characterized the rest of the action, with the outstanding feature being some stunning ground fielding by Bangladesh.
The young Bangladesh team has been lifting the standards of its out cricket with every game; today, it was close to perfect, with the fielders saving a good 25-30 runs in the field. Plus, the pressure they created meant that the batsmen were forced to take greater risks, leading to more errors.
Thanks largely to Lionel Cann, who hammered Aftab for two fours and a huge six, and Dean Minors, who produced a little cameo of 23 in 25 balls, Bangladesh ended up on 94/9. It is moot whether the batting side might have played its innings differently if it had known from the start that it only had 21 overs to play; in the event, this was the only game in town.
When Bangladesh came out to chase an eminently gettable total, Hurdle began with an over comprising four wides and one no ball. Having completed a 11-ball over, he ambled over to third man; Mukuddem came on for the second over, Tamim Iqbal stepped out to the first ball and had a hit, the ball flared high and Hurdle, racing around along the line, pulled off a blinder somewhere near where deep backward point should have been.
Both Bermudan opening bowlers got the ball to bend banana-like; batting wasn't particularly easy even for a Bangladesh team high on confidence. Streaky swipes and inadvertent edges, more than authentic shots, moved the score along (extras helped - there were ten in the first three overs), before Aftab - who, unable to fathom the movement, attempted to live by the sword, fell LBW to Mukuddem.
Mukuddem in fact reveled in the conditions. Unlike Hurdle, who tried too hard and ended up giving away too many by way of no balls and wides (besides the extra deliveries the batting side got), Mukuddem concentrated on bowling within himself and just putting the ball there or thereabouts. The conditions did the rest; one such late inswinger turned Shahriyar Nafees inside out, found his edge, and ballooned to second slip.
An interesting thing about the little teams is the courage they show: despite the score reading 42/3, with just 54 more for Bangladesh to get, Romaine figured that his only hope lay in getting wickets. So, rather than defend the boundaries, he brought his fielders in - there was, at that point, two slips, a gully, and a short third man, with point, cover and mid off also well inside the circle.
Bermuda had a couple of half chances that didn't quite stick. In the 11th over, Ashraful slammed hard at a full delivery on middle and put it up in the air; Pitcher, at mid on, took an eternity to react and by the time he turned, ran and dived for the ball, it was all too late. In the next over, Ashraful pulled hard at a Leverock delivery that was dragged down, Kemp at midwicket jumped high and got the fingertips of one hand to it, but that is about as close as they got.
Saqibul Hasan and Ashraful then settled in to scamper singles, occasionally loft over the infield, and guide the team target past the target and into the Super Eights: a superlative achievement, that cannot be overpraised - even by Indian fans who will see in the result the final nail in the Indian team's coffin. Bangladesh sealed the win by the convincing margin of 7 wickets - and Ashraful's four, which put the team past the target, will doubtless have triggered massive celebrations in Dhaka and elsewhere.
On the day, Bermuda did not disgrace itself either. It was put in under inhospitable skies; the batsmen struggled to get any kind of rhythm going as they kept scampering into the pavilion for rain breaks - yet they played with a heart, and energy, that was good to see.
The Cup: The Complete Coverage
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