Melbourne, March 19 (IANS) Powered by a scintillating century from Rohit Sharma (137), India registered a comprehensive 109-run win over neighbours Bangladesh to enter the cricket World Cup semifinals at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) here on Thursday.
Guided by Rohit, the defending champions posted a challenging total of 302/6 in 50 overs in the quarterfinal. Later, the Bangladeshi batsmen proved no match for the Indian bowlers, who skittled out the youngest Test-playing nation for 193 runs in 45 overs.
No team has ever chased down a 300-plus target at the huge MCG and Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men ensured that they maintained the record. Dhoni also entered his name into the record books to become only the third captain in One-Day International (ODI) history to win 100 matches after Allan Border (107) and Ricky Ponting (165).
Chasing 303, Bangladesh never got going and kept losing wickets steadily. Opener Tamim Iqbal (25) looked a little dangerous at the start but his wicket in the seventh over started the collapse.
None of the Bangladesh batsmen stepped up to play the anchor’s role. The only notable partnership came from Nasir Hossain (35) and Sabbir Rahman (30) who struck a 50-run stand for the seventh wicket. But it was a little too late to resurrect the innings for Bangladesh, who had lost six wickets at 139 by the 36th over.
On a day when Mohammed Shami (2/37) and Mohit Sharma (1/36) went for a few runs, it was Umesh Yadav who rose to the occasion to clinch his career-best figures of 4/31. Also, with his two wickets, Shami is now the highest wicket-taker of the World Cup with 17 scalps.
The spinners were also effective. While Ravindra Jadeja (2/42) picked up a couple, offie Ravichandran Ashwin tied down the batsmen with figures of 10-1-30-0.
Earlier, Rohit’s 122-run fourth-wicket partnership with Suresh Raina (65) provided the platform for India to put up a big total.
After opting to bat, India started off quite smoothly with openers Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan (30) crafting a 75-run opening wicket stand to take India through the initial overs.
The Bangladesh pacers lacked sting at the start. Seeing this, captain Mashrafe Mortaza brought in spin via Nasir Hossain in only the fifth over. When he was unsuccessful, part-time spinner Mahmudullah also rolled his arm over.
Such impact-less were the Bangladeshis that Mortaza had introduced five bowlers within the first 12 overs as Dhawan and Rohit batted with ease, without taking chances.
With none of them finding success, Mortaza brought in his key weapon — Shakib Al Hasan — and the left-arm spinner got immediate success when he had Dhawan stumped in the 17th over. It took eight more deliveries before Bangladesh struck again when fast bowler Rubel Hossain sent back Virat Kohli (3).
Bangladesh stepped up the pressure on India, curbing their run flow. Under pressure, middle-order bat Ajinkya Rahane (19) did not last long, chipping one to mid-off to put India in more than a spot of bother at 115/3 in the 28th over.
Enter Raina. The left-hander cut loose from the start to up the ante. Seeing his partner, Rohit also started going for the shots. Raina, who scored a match-winning unbeaten century in the last game against Zimbabwe, brought his form into this crucial contest to hit seven boundaries and a six in his 57-ball innings.
The two smashed 50 runs in the batting powerplay (35-40 overs) to help India reach 205/3. India have till now not lost even a single wicket in the batting powerplay, unlike other teams in the tournament.
After Raina fell in the 44th over, Rohit kept up his strokeplay to bring up his seventh ODI century and become one of only three non-Australians to hit two hundreds at MCG along with David Gower and Viv Richards. Rohit’s ton was studded with 14 fours and three sixes.
In the end, Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 15-ball 23-run cameo helped India cross the 300-run mark with 97 runs coming off the last 10 overs.
Pacer Taskin Ahmed, 19, was the pick of the Bangladeshi bowlers, picking up three wickets including that of Rohit.