19 Feb ; Virender Sehwag unleashed a stunning display of strokeplay to smash a blistering 175 as India launched their cricket World Cup campaign with an emphatic 87-runs victory over Bangladesh in their opening World Cup group-B match at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium in Mirpur on Saturday.
Sehwag, who defied a hit on the knee, was in a murderous mood as he combined with young Virat Kohli (100 not out) to propel India to an imposing 370 for four before the visitors restricted the minnows 283 for nine to avenge the shock defeat in the last edition.
Although the Bangladeshi batsmen made a valiant effort, the target proved much too stiff and ultimately lost their way as the asking rate kept mounting.
Tamim Iqbal (70) and and skipper Shakib Al Hasan (55) were the notable contributors for Bangladesh.
For India Munaf Patel was the star performer with the ball with figures of four for 48 while Zaheer Khan also chipped in with two wickets for 41 runs.
Put into bat, Sehwag virtually toyed with the hapless Bangladeshi bowlers to notch up his 14th ODI century with a breathtaking array of strokes while Kohli completed his century in the penultimate ball of the inning.
The scintillating show by the due ensured that India, unlike the last time when they lost to Bangladesh by five wickets, started their World Cup quest on a resounding note.
India will now take on England in their second Group-B league match in Bangalore on February 27.
Sehwag hammered as many as 14 boundaries and five sixes during his 140-ball 175 while Kohli’s unbeaten 83-ball 100 contained eight boundaries and two sixes.
Sachin Tendulkar (28) and Gautam Gambhir (39) got starts but could not capitalise on it, though Tendulkar was distinctly unlucky to be run out.
The Bangladeshi innings began with a flourish as both the openers Iqbal and Imrul Kayes (34) played a few attacking shots, particularly against S Sreesanth who tended to err in line and length in his opening spell.
The opening pair put on a brisk 56 runs in 6.5 overs before paceman Munaf Patel provided the breakthrough by castling Kayes for 34.
Iqbal and Junaid Siddique (37) ensured that there were no immediate jolts for the hosts as they batted cautiously without taking too many risks.
But as a result, the asking rate continued to mount as the two Bangladeshi batsmen found it difficult to hit the Indian spinners.
Though Harbhajan Singh and Yusuf Pathan found it difficult to grip the ball properly because of the dew, they stuck to a tidy line and length to dry up the runs.
Harbhajan accounted for the dismissal of Siddique as he was beaten by a ball which spun sharply and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni whipped off the bails in a flash.
Bangladesh captain Shakib scored a gutsy 50-ball 55 and together with wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim (25) added 46 for the fourth wicket before departing in search of quick runs.
Shakib was caught by Harbhajan at deep midwicket boundary off Yusuf Pathan as he went for a slog sweep.
From there on victory was just a formality for India as the asking rate crept up and in search of runs they lost wickets at regular intervals towards the end.
Earlier, Sehwag set the tempo for the Indian innings by spanking the very first ball off paceman Shafiul Islam through cover to the boundary to begin the innings on a rousing note. He also clobbered the last ball to the boundary as the first over yielded 12 runs.
His opening partner Tendulkar also got into the act quickly by hitting Rubel Hossain’s second ball to the fence, a delectable flick to the square leg boundary.
The two Bangladeshi new ball bowlers strayed in line and length and were punished by both Sehwag and Tendulkar who gave India a flying start.
With runs coming quickly, Bangladesh captain Shakib introduced left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak as early as in the fifth over of the innings in a bid to get the breakthrough and check the run flow.
Razzak managed to stem the run flow as he bowled a tidy line and length initially before Sehwag and Tendulkar used their feet to attack him.
Just when the two openers seemed to be cruising along comfortably, Tendulkar (28) was run out after a terrible mix up with Sehwag.
He pushed the ball towards wide mid-on and called Sehwag for a single but the Delhi batsman did not respond. Both the batsmen ended up on the bowler’s end as Bangladesh skipper Shakib stopped the the ball brilliantly and threw it towards the wicketkeeper, who dislodged the bails, sparking celebrations in the stands.
Gambhir was his usual confident self, and relied on singles and twos to build up his innings and soon with Sehwag he raised the 50-run partnership.
Shakib tried all his slow bowlers but there was no stopping the Indian duo. The ploy to introduce Mahmudullah though worked as he cleaned up Gambhir (39) with a faster delivery.
Another Indian failed to convert a good start but it had no effect on Sehwag, who from the other end kept taking the bowlers to task.
Kohli, who has been in good form of late, joined Sehwag in the middle and the Delhi duo kept consolidating India’s position.
Sehwag took a single off Mahmuddullah to notch up his 14th ODI century and his second in the World Cup, getting a standing applause by his teammates and the support staff in the dressing room. His 100 came off 94 balls.
After Sehwag completed the century, both the batsmen opted for the batting powerplay and virtually plundered runs at will, picking up Shafiul Islam for special treatment by clobbering him for 18 runs in one over.
Abdur Razzak also came in for a battering as Sehwag smashed him for two boundaries and a six in one over to accelerate the pace of scoring.
Sehwag created many batting records during his scintillating knock. It was the highest score by an Indian batsman against Bangladesh, going past Sourav Ganguly’s 135 in 2000 and he also surpassed Tendulkar’s 141 which till date was the highest individual score in ODIs in Bangladesh.
Sehwag fell at the same score that legendary Kapil Dev had made 28 years ago. Shakib bowled a fullish ball angling into Sehwag who got a bottom edge onto his stumps.
Kohli managed to reach his century in the penultimate ball of the innings while the last ball saw Yusuf Pathan being caught by the wicket-keeper off Shafiul Islam.