On wrong foot

The day before the match against Bangladesh, Team India had looked relaxed and quietly confident. But first Mashrafe Mortaza, and then Tamim Iqbal jolted Dravid's side like renegade volts. A report by S. Ram Mahesh.

Rahul Dravid was distraught. Normally capable of a philosophic thought in dark moments, he seemed to be taking the defeat against Bangladesh very badly.

"Coming in a World Cup, it was really disappointing to lose," said Dravid. "Had some (disappointments), but this really is big. It's up there with some of the disappointments I've had as player and as captain. When you play 10-11 years you do have to face disappointments. If we can pull ourselves out of this hole and make the next round, we can dismiss this as a bad dream, and move on."

The day before the match, Team India had looked relaxed and quietly confident. But first Mashrafe Mortaza, and then Tamim Iqbal jolted Dravid's side like renegade volts.

Mortaza made admirable use of conditions ideal for seam bowling. The early start ensured moisture and, consequently, cut; the firm track guaranteed carry.

Mortaza bowls like a man his size should. He has had trouble with injuries, but he has worked with his trainer over the last year and a half to reach peak fitness. His action is strong. Many a time he breached the 140 kmph mark. He accounted for the out-of-form Virender Sehwag and the impulsive Robin Uthappa.

"Their bowling was quite outstanding especially Mortaza up front," said Dravid. "He bowled very well in the conditions."Mortaza's partner in crime Syed Rasel bowled with great skill, utilising both cut and swing to fox the batsmen. Bangladesh's trio of left-arm spinners then dried up the runs. "I'll give credit to their spinners, they didn't let us get away," said Dravid.

Sourav Ganguly, who had ridden Mortaza's bounce well, was hanging in. He wasn't pretty. But, scowling and blinking, he fought through the innings, accumulating now so he could make up later. Yuvraj Singh, who added 85 with Ganguly, played India's innings of the day.

But, both left within a run of each other, and a procession followed clutching at their coat-tails. Did Dravid regret choosing to bat? "Don't know if I regret it," he said. "We could have batted a lot better up front. It seamed more and longer than we expected. It had a dry look to it. We thought we'd be positive, put the runs, and make it difficult, but it didn't work out. We lost wickets in a flurry towards the end. We were about 30-40 runs short."

Iqbal, just 17, then proceeded to drive India on to the back-foot. He lashed fours through the off-side to speed to his half-century. On one occasion he charged Zaheer Khan and struck him into the second tier of the Queen's Park Oval.

"Their opener Tamim came out played some strokes to make a quick 50," said Dravid. "The flying start helped them, it set things up." Mushfiqur Rahim and Saqibul Hasan then controlled the innings with exceptional batting displays. Both showed maturity and cricket sense far beyond their tender years as they shut India out of the match.

Rahim is a compact player with the balance small men have access to. He has good defensive technique, but isn't averse to lofting over the infield in an extension of a conventional cricket stroke. Promoted to three, Rahim was entrusted with stitching the innings together. Hasan is spoken of as an all-round talent — on that Saturday's evidence, his left-arm spin and left-handed batting will make the grade sooner than later.

India didn't help itself by dropping the few chances that came its way. Worse, at certain stages the side didn't seem to want to win badly enough. "It might have looked that way from the outside, but as a group we were trying hard," said Dravid. "If the half chances had stuck, it would have helped. But defending 190 is never easy. We didn't get wickets at regular intervals. I told them to keep believing. Some half chances didn't stick. And the wicket was getting better."

For Bangladesh, the win was glorious affirmation that it belonged with the top eight sides in cricket. Bangladesh 's generation next — the one that has been spared the scars of constant early defeats — came to the fore.

"The wins against Pakistan (in the 1999 World Cup) and Australia (in 2005) were unexpected," said Habibul Bashar. "But, here we expected to defeat India. We knew it was no easy feat. But, we were confident in our preparations. We were the first team in the Caribbean. It helped us learn the conditions. The win against New Zealand (in a warm-up game) gave us lots of confidence." Bashar dedicated the win to 22-year-old spinner Manjurul Islam who had died in a road accident in Bangladesh. Mortaza dedicated his Man of the Match award to his "best friend", Manjurul.


Group B: Bangladesh v India. Bangladesh won by five wickets.

India: S. Ganguly c Razzak b Rafique 66; V. Sehwag b Mortaza 2; R. Uthappa c Aftab b Mortaza 9; S. Tendulkar c Rahim b Razzak 7; R. Dravid lbw b Rafique 14; Yuvraj Singh c Bashar b Razzak 47; M. Dhoni c Aftab b Rafique 0; Harbhajan Singh b Razzak 0; A. Agarkar c Rahim b Mortaza 0; Zaheer Khan (not out) 15; M. Patel c Razzak b Mortaza 15; Extras (lb-5, w-3, nb-8) 16. Total (in 49.3 overs) 191.

Fall of wkts: 1-6, 2-21, 3-40, 4-72, 5-157, 6-158, 7-159, 8-159, 9-159.

Bangladesh bowling: Mortaza 9.3-2-38-4; Rasel 10-2-31-0; Razzak 10-2-38-3; Hasan 10-0-44-0; Rafique 10-2-35-3.

Bangladesh: T. Iqbal c Dhoni b Patel 51; S. Nafees lbw b Zaheer 2; M. Rahim (not out) 56; Aftab Ahmed lbw b Patel 8; S. Hasan st. Dhoni b Sehwag 53; H. Bashar st. Dhoni b Sehwag 1; M. Ashraful (not out) 8. Extras (lb-1, w-4, nb-8) 13. Total (for five wkts. in 48.3 overs) 192.

Fall of wkts: 1-24, 2-69, 3-79, 4-163, 5-175.

India bowling: Zaheer 9-2-41-1; Agarkar 10-0-41-0; Patel 8.3-1-39-2; Harbhajan 10-1-30-0; Tendulkar 3-0-8-0; Yuvraj 3-0-15-0; Sehwag 5-0-17-2.