It's a Dhoni-Karthik show

Well done guys. Yuvraj Singh, who was a runner for the injured M. S. Dhoni, congratulates the wicketkeeper-batsman and his partner Dinesh Karthik after the victory.-AP

The win was certainly not a revenge for the World Cup embarrassment at the hands of Bangladesh. It was just the start the Indian team had pledged its skipper, heralding a new season that has challenges ahead in England, Australia and Pakistan, writes Vijay Lokapally.

The sweltering heat was exasperating and then it rained for a while to delay the start. The ground staff swung into action and got the game going. It was not an ideal day for cricket but it ended pleasantly for the Indians who had to toil for the five-wicket victory.

Rahul Dravid was obviously pleased with the result that gave India a 1-0 lead in the three-match one-day series. It was certainly not a revenge for the World Cup embarrassment at the hands of Bangladesh. It was just the start the Indian team had pledged its skipper, heralding a new season that has challenges ahead in England, Australia and Pakistan.

"The partnership between (M. S.) Dhoni and (Dinesh) Karthik was special. The conditions were very difficult; there was pressure too and that is why the partnership was exceptional. They controlled the innings well," said Dravid.

Bangladesh may have entertained hopes of a victory when it set India a target of 251 in 47 overs but then it was without the services of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. India, on the other hand, also suffered from poor form in the batting line-up. But then it had Dhoni who was keen on refurbishing his image and Karthik, who was anxious to grab the chance and establish himself in the team purely as a batsman.

Dhoni, who suffered cramps for a major part of his innings, was candid when asked if he would like to compare this knock of 91 not out with some of his match-winning efforts of the past. "I don't believe in comparing batsmen or innings. All I can say is that it was one of the best innings I played because the conditions were different. The conditions favoured the bowlers, particularly the left-arm spinners."

Dhoni, the `Man of the Match', changed the course of the contest from a precarious situation where India was reduced to 144 for five. "I am a fighter and I believe in fighting hard. Coming back and sitting in the dressing room is not what I look forward to. Yuvraj (Singh) really helped me a lot. He ran quite a few runs for me."

The target and the conditions prompted Dhoni's promotion. As Dravid noted, "We knew that the ball comes on to the bat early when it is new. Dhoni has the ability to think and he does not play in just one fashion. He has the ability to change gears, to change the tempo of the game, play according to the situation and that's a fantastic gift to have at such a young age."

The best part of India's victory was Dhoni's responsible innings and Karthik's brilliance in snatching the initiative from the opposition with a positive approach. On the rivalry between them, Dhoni said sportingly, "It's a healthy competition between us and it must be a worrying sign for batsmen in India as we are doing well."

Earlier Bangladesh did well to post a target of 250-plus. The openers, Javed Omar and Tamim Iqbal, set the pace while Saqibul Hasan consolidated on their effort. With Zaheer Khan being clouted, it was left to Dinesh Mongia to chip in with his left-arm spin after S. Sreesanth left the field due to cramps.

Dravid summed it up rightly when he observed, "Bangladesh have been playing some good cricket, no doubt. Having set such a target they would have definitely beaten a few around the world in those conditions." If Bangladesh failed to maintain the pressure, it was because of poor fielding when it mattered.

Karthik's day was made when Dravid praised him lavishly. "He can bat well and as long as he can do that it does not matter whether he is a wicketkeeper or a fast bowler or an off-spinner. So let's not label him just as a wicketkeeper. If he shows promise with the bat, why not consider him as a batsman?"

Ravi Shastri, coach for just this series, was pleased too. "They are young players and to show that kind of maturity, it augurs well. The way they played, you got to give them credit."

Bangladesh lost but was not disgraced. India won and took a step forward in its endeavour to identify players who could perform under pressure.

THE SCORES First ODI, May 10. India won by five wickets.

Bangladesh: J. Omar (run out) 80; T. Iqbal c Sehwag b Mongia 45; H. Bashar c Gambhir b Powar 0; S. Hasan st. Dhoni b Mongia 50; M. Ashraful b Mongia 29; Aftab Ahmed lbw b Sehwag 16; M. Rafique c Karthik b Powar 11; M. Rahim (not out) 1; Extras (lb-1, w-13, nb-4) 18. Total (for seven wkts., in 47 overs) 250.

Fall of wkts: 1-78, 2-78, 3-185, 4-200, 5-236, 6-240, 7-250.

India bowling: Zaheer 7-1-54-0; Sreesanth 5-1-14-0; Patel 7-1-31-0; Powar 10-0-55-2; Mongia 10-0-49-3; Sehwag 8-0-46-1.

India: G. Gambhir lbw b Rasel 21; V. Sehwag c Hasan b Rasel 30; M. Dhoni (not out) 91; Yuvraj Singh c Razzak b Hossain 1; R. Dravid c Razzak b Hasan 22; D. Mongia c Aftab b Hasan 17; D. Karthik (not out) 58; Extras (lb-4, w-6, nb-1) 11. Total (for five wkts., in 46 overs) 251.

Fall of wkts: 1-35, 2-56, 3-63, 4-112, 5-144.

Bangladesh bowling: Syed Rasel 9-0-66-2; Hossain 7-0-43-1; Razzak 9-1-35-0; Rafique 10-0-47-0; Hasan 9-0-43-2; Aftab 2-0-13-0.