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India cruise home against Bangladesh in T20 World Cup

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gambhir_pulls.jpgDefending champions India restored a sense of normalcy to cricketing proceedings recording a comprehensive 25 run victory over Bangladesh to all but secure a place for themselves in the Super 8 stage of the competition.

A great all-round effort from the unit was the hallmark of the victory, with the openers Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma playing useful hands before a cameo from Yuvraj Singh propelled India to a score of 180 from their 20 overs.

Four wickets for 21 from left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha choked the Bangladesh innings in the middle, and helped India restrict the Tigers to just 115 for 8 in reply.

It was an irrelevant toss for either side as India got to bat as they wanted, and Bangladesh got their wish to be in the field. Zaheer Khan returned to the line-up for India at the expense of Praveen Kumar, having missed the end of the IPL and both practice games. Virender Sehwag was still nursing an injury, so Sharma would once again open the innings for India.

For Bangladesh ‘find of the tour' fast-bowler Rubel Hossain shared the new ball with the experienced Mashrafe Murtaza.

Gambhir got India off to the perfect start, square cutting the second ball he faced from Murtaza to the boundary. Sharma repeated the outcome a couple of deliveries later, albeit showing a lot more class, stroking the ball through extra cover for its date with the fence.

Bangladesh followed up with a couple of tight overs, just conceding 8 runs from them, and were almost rewarded when Gambhir played an up-ish cut-shot with Raqibul Hossain unable to hang on to a tough diving chance. After the pair crossed through for a single off that ball, Sharma sprinkled some heavy spices onto the fresh wounds smashing the next ball just over square leg for six, before leaning into another shot through the covers.

Sharma picked up another consecutive six and four in the 6th over as India ended the powerplays at 54 for no loss.

Left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan should have had Sharma stumped off the first ball of the 7th over, but wicketkeeper Mushfiqur made a hash of the chance. It cost Bangladesh nothing however as Shakib deceived Sharma with an arm ball the very next delivery, creating a mess of his stumps in the process.

Sharma's dismissal brought Indian skipper Dhoni out in the middle into his newly elevated no. 3 position, and MS and Gambhir took India through to 110 for 1 from 14 overs without too much fuss and fanfare.

Dhoni (26 from 21) fell to Naeem Islam in the 15th over, and India scored just 3 runs from it, leaving the side looking a few runs short of a good score.
Mushfiqur missed another stumping, this time the crucial one of Yuvraj Singh in Shakib's final over. It was one that the left-handed batsman made them regret smashing 41 from 18 balls including 4 sixes and 3 fours.

Yuvraj brought back memories of his heroics in Durban in 2007 hitting Naeem for three sixes in the 17th over. He then scored another 15 of Rubel in the 18th to put India firmly back in the driver's seat.

Bangladesh picked up three wickets in the slugfest, but another cameo of 11 from 3 balls from Irfan Pathan put an exclamation mark on India's score.

The Bangladesh response was perfect as Tamim Iqbal welcomed Zaheer Khan to the fold with a couple of boundaries in the first over. Irfan Pathan at the other end was treated with equal disdain as he too conceded 10 off his first over including a Junaid Siddique 6 over midwicket off the first ball the Bangla opener faced.

Dhoni quickly turned to the spin of Yusuf Pathan in the third over, and the temptation of hitting the off-spinner out of the ground proved Tamim's undoing as he was easily stumped by Dhoni.

Zaheer Khan switched ends but Siddique carried on as if nothing really happened in the previous over as Khan went for another couple of boundaries.

Yusuf could have had his second wicket soon thereafter, but Ishant Sharma running back from mid-on made a mess of a chance given by Siddique.

Ishant Sharma was brought on by Dhoni to make amends, and the young fast bowler responded taking the wicket of Bangladesh skipper Mohammad Ashraful in the last of the powerplay overs.

Bangladesh however once again carried on at their open pace, with Junaid and new man Shakib picking up 11 off Harbhajan's first over.

Dhoni brought on his third spinner (he has a remarkable 6 solid spinning options in the side) Pragyan Ojha, and the left-armer clinched a decisive double blow for India dismissing both Shakib and Junaid (41 from 22) within the space of 5 balls.

With Bangladesh struggling at 73 for 4, Dhoni squeezed the runs completely as 'Bhajji' and Ojha raced through the middle overs conceding just 24 from 5 overs with man-of-the-match Ojha picking up two more wickets on the way.

Dhoni brought back the fast bowlers for the end of the innings, and though Naeem Islam did throw his bat around, the match was already decided by this stage.

Naeem fell off the second last ball of the match for a breezy 28 including 3 sixes, and in the end Bangladesh fell well short by 25 runs.

Despite their win, India still need to figure out how best to use their seamers in the T20 format, and perhaps need to review the selection as well. Their batting through the middle overs wasn't perfect either and if Yuvraj's stumping hadn't been missed, we might have seen an even closer contest.

That said, India are the first side in the competition to win a match batting first, and would take heart from the fact that they have looked the most settled side in the tournament so far.

Bangladesh and Ireland do battle on Monday, with the winner more or less assured qualification. It'll be a big match for both sides, and it'll be interesting to see if Bangladesh's experience will be enough to see them through.

Mini Scorecard:
India 180/5 (20 overs)
Gambhir 50            Naeem Islam 2-32

Bangladesh 155/8 (20 overs)
Siddique 41           Ojha 4-21

File Photograph Copyright: ICC

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