|Virat Kohli celebrates after scoring a century, the first by an Indian in his World Cup debut match, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium
on Saturday. Picture by Prem Singh
Dhaka, Feb. 19: The Bangla Tigers didnt roar as they did in 2007, but still sent a mild shiver down a billion and more spines this evening.
India won their World Cup-opener by 87 runs, but the talking point was Bangladesh captain Shakib-al-Hasans decision to field after Mahendra Singh Dhoni lost another toss.
Concerned about dew at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, a truly First World venue, Shakib gambled in the hope that Indias awesome line-up would be restricted to around 260-270.
He couldnt have got it more wrong as India, powered by vice-captain Virender Sehwags career-best 175 (140 balls, 14x4, 5x6) and Virat Kohlis 100 not out, amassed 370 for four.
Kohli, who should soon be playing Test cricket, became the first Indian to score a hundred on his maiden World Cup appearance.
Sehwag took the 10th editions first MoM award and, at one stage, it seemed he would eclipse guru Sachin Tendulkars record of 200 not out. However, its another city which could see that happening.
Sachin, by the way, is now the most capped player in ODIs. Earlier in the season, hed become the No. 1 in Tests.
My aim was to bat a minimum of 30-40 overs, but I batted for 47.3 and was happy that, at least once in my career, Id batted for so long... I wasnt thinking of 200 (when he got out), I was only thinking of batting 50 overs, Sehwag said in his take-it-or-leave-it manner.
The way he applied himself was refreshing and Indias opponents later in the tournament are sure to revisit their strategy for the game-changer.
|Virender Sehwag during the match. (Prem Singh)
Sehwags first appearance for India was in ODIs, as far back as April 1999, but hes made more of a mark in Test cricket. Today, the 32-year-old made a point: that he must not be underestimated in the 50-over game.
Incidentally, Sourav Gangulys 183 against Sri Lanka, in the 1999 World Cup, remains the highest individual score by an Indian in the tournament.
Given that Bangladesh had upset India in the last World Cup, Shakib ought to have put runs on the board and made the Dhonis chase in front of a highly charged and partisan crowd.
He didnt put India under pressure and Bangladesh took away precious little from the opener.
I couldnt believe it when Shakib declared hed field, former India captain Ravi Shastri, who was on toss-duty for TV, told The Telegraph.
Shakibs defence, at the media conference, was most unconvincing. I always thought we had a better chance chasing. Had we managed a few early wickets, it would have become difficult for India. Our opening bowlers didnt execute plans and that was costly.
Frankly, India didnt do anything out of the ordinary. That the batsmen would step up was expected. If anything, what got reinforced is that our bowling may prove an embarrassment against a formidable opposition.
India decided on a 3-1 combination and the beneficiary, Sreesanth, was hit all over the park. His third over went for 24 and if India didnt have the luxury of 370, that could have been the turning point for Bangladesh.
What matters is the points column and India, after the win, have taken the first steps towards gaining momentum. Its not going to be an easy World Cup, so full points means a lot.
Indias next match, against England, is eight days away. Enough time to work on the bowling worries and ensure that run-outs, such as Sachins, arent repeated.