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India’s win was also M.S. Dhoni’s 100th in one-day internationals as captain and 11th in a row in world cups. Photo: Hamish Blair/Reuters
India’s win was also M.S. Dhoni’s 100th in one-day internationals as captain and 11th in a row in world cups. Photo: Hamish Blair/Reuters

Key takeaways from India’s World Cup quarterfinal win over Bangladesh

Rohit Sharma's innings was a template for modern day ODI batting while the bowlers have been impressive with their lengths and brisk pace

It was comprehensive in the end. India continued its dream run at the World Cup with a 109-run victory over Bangladesh, the team’s seventh consecutive win in the tournament. Given its run, India unsurprisingly managed to bowl out an opposition for the seventh time in a row. Staggering numbers, given all the chatter about their supposed weakness in bowling at the start of the World Cup. India’s win was also M.S. Dhoni’s 100th in one-day internationals as captain and 11th in a row in world cups.

Rohit Sharma comes through

It wasn’t quite a struggle, in literal terms, but if ever there was a stage for Rohit Sharma to come through and announce himself in this tournament, this was it. His innings was quite a template for modern-day one-day batting. After winning the toss and Dhoni choosing to bat first, Sharma’s knock began with a boundary off the very first ball of the match, an exquisite cover drive. Aided by an erratic opening spell from Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza, Sharma got going straight away, and even with wickets falling around him regularly, at least till Suresh Raina arrived, he kept going, with classy risk-free cricket, rotating the strike at every given opportunity, and scoring that odd boundary in between. He finished with 137 to his name, but what stood out was the way he paced his innings.

After the drinks break in the 32nd over, Bangladesh looked to switch off and both Sharma and Raina made merry with the batting power play due in a couple of overs. India needed a sense of momentum going into the five-over bracket.

Even some of Sharma’s stroke play in the last leg of his hundred was exquisite. No slogging, just timing. With sharma managing to score that much-needed hundred today, India’s batting order looks in sublime form, very timely ahead of the semi-finals.

Raina the gamechanger

The Bangladeshi spinners, led by Nasir Hossain and Shakib al Hasan, had managed to put the squeeze on India’s scoring, the run-rate stuttering along at just under four runs an over. Ajinkya Rahane struggled during his brief stint in the middle, but was relieved of his miseries by Rubel Hossain, who managed to get him with Rahane trying a get-out-of-jail shot and failing to clear the extra cover. Backed by some excellent Bangladeshi fielding, India were 119 for 3 at one stage, at best, looking at a sub-300 score.

In walked Raina and straightaway runs started flowing for India. It began slowly, with ones and twos, but the scoreboard started moving. The running between the wickets, which was missing during the earlier Rohit-Rahane partnership, was back and before the Bangladeshis realised, the duo looked set and ready to launch. They sensed an opportunity, with Bangladesh’s captain coming off an indifferent opening spell, where he lacked the pace and the bite to trouble Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.

India, through Rohit and Raina, managed to plunder 50 runs off the batting power play, and with that a launch pad was set for the final flourish. Although Raina perished in the 44th over, he did his job well. His innings of 65 off 57 balls gave India the desired platform and importantly the impetus and the urgency with which the duo batted, helped overcome a sluggish run-rate as they went into the slog overs. ​Raina’s innings may not fetch him an award come the end of the match, but that knock quite literally turned the game on its head.

The bowling steps up, again

It’s quite refreshing to watch India bowl these days, especially in this tournament. The pace bowling has been quite a treat to watch—with the likes of Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma delivering consistently. It was no different this time. While Shami came under attack from Tamim Iqbal initially, Yadav delivered, snaring the dangerous Iqbal out in the seventh over. Likewise, Sharma followed it up by keeping things tight.

Besides the numbers, what has been most impressive about India’s bowling displays is the lengths they have been bowling on these wickets throughout the competition and at a brisk, if not good pace. They pitched it short of a length or on good length mostly, used the bouncer rather judiciously and were rewarded with the type of wickets they managed to pick up.

The spell bowled by Shami to Soumya Sarkar, where he sent down a few bouncers even after being hit for boundaries, was rather impressive. Shami spotted Sarkar’s preference for the ramp shot (or the upper cut, if you like), setting him up with a bouncer and following up with a slow bouncer that got his man, who was committed to the stroke.

The other good bit about India’s bowling in the game, and generally throughout the tournament, has been the spinners’ coming through, following up on the good start provided by the pacers. They come in after the first power play, and virtually choke the run-making, forcing the batsmen to make runs and, in the process, giving away their wickets.

India have now qualified for the second semi-final to be played in Sydney on 26 March, where they will face the winner of Friday’s clash between Pakistan and Australia.

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