Cruising into the semis

Amit Mishra... winning spin.-AP

India proved too good for Bangladesh, with spinners Amit Mishra and R. Ashwin doing a great job with the ball. Shreedutta Chidananda reports.

India stuck to its easy, established pattern of victory, cruising into the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 with an effortless defeat of Bangladesh. A vocal home crowd was left disappointed as India first limited the opponent to 138 before chasing the score down comfortably.

The win was again set up by the efforts of the spinners, Amit Mishra taking three for 26 and the Man of the Match R. Ashwin two for 15. For the latter, it was finally a reward for his fine displays since the Asia Cup. The previous few months have not been easy for Ashwin but he seems to have rediscovered his form.

The off-spinner is vital to India’s fortunes, particularly in this format, for he offers the team a versatility that others don’t. He can bowl with the new ball, which Mishra or Ravindra Jadeja can’t — not effectively, anyway — and operate towards the end. M.S. Dhoni has not used him in the last three overs but it is a job he has shown he can perform capably.

By his own admission, Ashwin has been defensive. He has been keen on squeezing batsmen for room and drying the runs up. Against the West Indies, he had been reserved for any time Chris Gayle chose to go on the attack, Dhoni revealed. In the event, Gayle didn’t but it revealed the level of trust the captain reposes in him.

Bangladesh’s openers went for it from the outset, the opening over, bowled by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, yielding 13 runs. It was Ashwin, who opened from the other end, that delivered the breakthrough, his sharp off-break consuming Tamim Iqbal.

“Usually, I decide bowling changes on the field,” Dhoni said later. “Today, I wanted to start with fast bowlers but once Bhuvi bowled the first over, I decided I don’t want to bowl Shami right now. I want to use Ashwin from the other end. In this format you have to be flexible.”

Shamsur Rahman came in at one-drop and slog-swept the first ball into deep square-leg’s hands. That shot was the last thing the batting side needed in that situation; it typified Bangladesh’s problems this tournament.

“When it comes off, it looks great; when it doesn’t come off, it looks awful,” the skipper, Mushfiqur Rahim, said afterwards. “That’s one of his strengths but we haven’t said ‘go and hit from ball one’. But if someone feels that he can clear the fence, and not get caught in the deep, he is free to do it. In the T20 format, there are risks and there are mistakes too. You have to take risks. One wicket down and he hit the first ball; probably, if he could have taken two or three balls and had a look at the wicket, he could’ve cashed in.”

Only Anamul Haque and, to some extent, Mushfiqur, made meaningful runs for Bangladesh. Anamul has looked a great talent for some time; some composure will turn him into a fine batsman across formats.

Chasing 139, India coasted home. Shikhar Dhawan failed again but Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli scored fluent fifties. Dhoni, who had had no time in the middle in the previous two games, promoted himself and bashed a hurried 22. “If our middle order has not been tested then it's beyond our control,” the captain said. “We can’t do much about it. Virat has batted well and so has Rohit. Everybody has a batted a bit — Suresh Raina and Yuvi. It’s only Jadeja and Ashwin who haven’t got to bat at all. All we can do that for them is that give them the priority in the next matches; send them up the order. We will see how it goes.”

THE SCORES

Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal c Raina b Ashwin 6, Anamul Haque b Mishra 44, Shamsur Rahman c Rohit b Ashwin 0, Shakib Al Hasan b Bhuvneshwar 1, Mushfiqur Rahim c Kohli b Shami 24, Nasir Hossain st Dhoni b Mishra 16, Mahmudullah (not out) 33, Ziaur Rahman c Jadeja b Mishra 0, Mashrafe Mortaza (not out) 6, Extras (b-4, lb-2, w-2) 8, Total (for seven wickets in 20 overs): 138.

Fall of wickets: 1-20, 2-20, 3-21, 4-67, 5-82, 6-131, 7-131.

India bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3-0-21-1, R. Ashwin 4-0-15-2, Mohammad Shami 3-0-29-1, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-30-0, Suresh Raina 2-0-11-0, Amit Mishra 4-0-26-3.

India: Rohit Sharma c Nasir b Mortaza 56, Shikhar Dhawan b Al-Amin 1, Virat Kohli (not out) 57, M.S. Dhoni (not out) 22, Extras (w-4, nb-1) 5, Total (for two wickets in 18.3 overs) 141.

Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-113.

Bangladesh bowling: Mashrafe Mortaza 4-0-23-1, Sohag Gazi 3-0-21-0, Al-Amin Hossain 4-0-38-1, Shakib Al Hasan 4-0-26-0, Ziaur Rahman 2.3-0-26-0, Mahmudullah 1-0-7-0.