Bangladesh's party turns to gloom

Virender Sehwag's 175 and Virat Kohli's rousing unbeaten 100 set up India's 87-run win over Bangladesh in the inaugural match of the 2011 World Cup in Dhaka. S. Dinakar reports.

Virender Sehwag has this habit of dismantling attacks. He does so by pounding the bowlers psychologically, forcing them to change plans. He also wins matches.

Sehwag's 175 and a rousing 100 not out from Virat Kohli set up India's 87-run win over Bangladesh in the inaugural match of the 2011 World Cup in Dhaka.

Shakib Al Hasan had a clear ploy when he invited India to bat. If his side could restrict India to around 250, Bangladesh would have a fighting chance of chasing down the score in conditions where the bowlers might find it hard to grip the ball because of the dew factor.

This was a huge occasion for Bangladesh. The whole of Dhaka had been partying since the previous night in anticipation of the World Cup opener. The streets were illuminated and filled with people who were celebrating with unbridled joy.

The blaring of horns, the rhythmic beating of drums, and emotive songs filled the air. All roads leading to the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur were packed with countless people unwilling to let the moment fly away. Their visages painted in Bangladeshi colours, the fans danced as if there was no tomorrow.

A day earlier, during the charming opening ceremony at the Banghabandu Stadium, there were more fans cheering on from outside than in the stands that actually didn't have an inch of space! This was incredible.

The World Cup had been welcomed by Bangladesh with the sort of passion that is very rarely witnessed. Even Eden Gardens might not have matched this.

Bangladesh was hopeful too that it could stun India once again in a World Cup. After all, the host had a strong record at home this season. It possessed the kind of combination that could excel in familiar conditions. There were constant references to Bangladesh's upset win over India at Port of Spain in the 2007 World Cup.

Simply put, Sehwag spoiled the Bangladesh party. Ahead of the tournament, the marauding batsman had expressed his wish to bat through a majority of his team's overs. This meant his aggression would be controlled.

The extraordinary opener's 140-ball 175 saw him bat till the middle of the 48th over. He sliced open the attack with strokes that were both brutal and beautiful. The first ball of the championship, from paceman Shafiul Islam, was smashed to the cover fence off the back-foot by Sehwag. He has this wonderful knack of finding the gaps spontaneously; an inane grasp of the field placements.

Left-arm spinners Abdur Razzak and skipper Shakib were the chief threats. But Sehwag disrupted their line by dancing down the track, creating room and striking the ball inside out between cover and point. Taken aback, Razzak and Shakib attempted to change ploy, but Sehwag couldn't be stopped. The Indian opener also won the mind game.

Sehwag built a solid foundation with Sachin Tendulkar — Sehwag was also responsible for the maestro's run-out dismissal — and the left-handed Gautam Gambhir. He then joined forces with Virat Kohli. The 203-run partnership between Sehwag and Kohli for the third wicket took the game away from Bangladesh.

Sehwag continued his tryst with speed although the surface was on the slower side. The pacemen were driven and cut between point and cover, the spinners were struck over their head and over mid-wicket.

Kohli is a fast-thinking, quick-footed batsman who has taken a liking for the international stage. His bat-speed was his ally as Kohli sizzled his way to an unbeaten century on World Cup debut.

His cover drives were pleasing and he whipped with panache. Both Sehwag and Kohli batted intelligently. They rotated the strike with singles and twos before launching into the bigger blows.

Predictably, India's total of 370 for four was beyond Bangladesh's reach. The side fought hard though. Imrul Kayes blitzed early in the innings — he was severe on S. Sreesanth, who disappointed — and Tamim Iqbal battled his way to 70. Shakib biffed a half-century but Bangladesh was never really in the hunt.

Zaheer Khan made a welcome return and bowled with precision while Munaf Patel impressed with his line and control. Harbhajan was tidy but there was little else in the other 20 overs of the Bangladesh innings.

Overall, the Indian bowling was not quite up to the mark as Bangladesh progressed to 283. The Indian fielding was not tidy either.

The contest was a mixed bag for India. Dhoni's men need to get their act together ahead of the bigger battles.


India 370 for four in 50 overs (V. Sehwag 175, S. R. Tendulkar 28, G. Gambhir 39, V. Kohli 100 not out) beat Bangladesh 283 for nine in 50 overs (Tamim Iqbal 70, Imrul Kayes 34, Junaid Siddique 37, Shakib Al Hasan 55, Mushfiqur Rahim 25, Raqibul Hasan 28 not out, M. M. Patel 4-48).