World Cup 2019: Mustafizur takes five to restrict India to 314

Rohit Sharma scored his fourth century in World Cup 2019 but Bangladesh clawed back to restrict India to 314/9.

Rohit Sharma scored a hundred as India set a target of 315 for Bangladesh.   -  AP Photo

As the south-west monsoon churned across the Arabian Sea and drenched Mumbai with a deluge that caused anguish to its citizens, a different rain, albeit of the joyous kind, occurred 7308 kilometres away at Edgbaston here on Tuesday.

A Mumbaikar was involved too as Rohit Sharma’s downpour of runs continued unabated. The opener’s fourth hundred (104, 92b, 7x4, 5x6) in this World Cup, head-lined India’s batting effort after Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bat against Bangladesh. K.L. Rahul (77) and Rishabh Pant (48) also contributed as the Men in Blue finished with 314 for nine at lunch. 

Earlier, it was the proverbial calm before the storm as the morning lyrically stirred to two national anthems written by one man - Rabindranath Tagore. Indians waved their flags, Bangladeshis held onto their oversized tiger dolls and openers Rohit and Rahul displayed a sense of urgency. Once Rohit hoisted Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza for six in the very first over, the template was set. Rohit enjoyed a reprieve too on nine. His miscued pull off Mustafizur Rahman (five for 59), eluded Tamim Iqbal and it was a drop that haunted Bangladesh.

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Rohit immediately launched a glorious six off Mohammad Saifuddin, as the bat painted a neat arc and the hit sailed into the delirious crowd. The seamers were put to the sword and Rahul joined the act, dabbing behind the wicket and driving splendidly. India’s 50 came in the ninth over and there was a brief lull when Shakib Al Hasan came on from the 11th over. The left-arm spinner’s unerring line forced Rohit to pause. A slip and a short mid-wicket were in place and yet the opener broke free as he leaned back and pulled a six.

Rahul then deposited Mortaza’s half-volley over long-on. Both Rohit and Rahul cruised past their fifties while their strokes pounded the billboards. Off-spinner Mosaddek Hossain craned his neck and gaped as Rohit launched one into the skies and it took a while before gravity lured the ball back. The batsman wasn’t sated yet and his appetite got bigger with every passing second. When he lofted Mustafizur for a six that blended disdain, timing and panache, the shot’s beauty was of the jaw-dropping kind.

Mortaza swapped his bowlers, seven of them at that, did in-out fields, but nothing worked. Rubel Hossain was punished though he did surprise Rahul once with steep bounce. India’s other scare happened when Rohit on 98, nearly chopped Shakib onto his stumps. But nothing fazed the batsman and with two singles he reached his ton. He allowed himself a flourish, throwing his bat with a twirl, caught it and then acknowledged the applause that emanated from his team-mates and rippled through the audience.

Rohit, however, couldn’t last long. He weakly lofted Soumya Sarkar to covers and departed. The first-wicket pair by then had shared a 180-run partnership and Kohli walked in the 30th over. And as it usually happens after the conclusion of a massive alliance, another wicket fell and this time Rahul edged Rubel. Kohli, meanwhile, drove Rubel to distraction but against the run of play, fell to Mustafizur. Two deliveries later, Hardik edged the left-arm seamer and India was placed at 237 for four in the 39th over.

Pant ensured that the scoreboard ticked as he swept, whipped and drove without any fetters. However, the southpaw succumbed to Shakib and Dinesh Karthik, who replaced Kedar Jadhav, also retreated. M.S. Dhoni chipped in some crucial runs until the final over meltdown against Mustafizur during which the former Indian captain, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who stepped in for Kuldeep Yadav in the eleven, and Mohammed Shami perished while a mere three was nudged.

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