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Finally, a win after blanks in SA & NZ

Mohammed Shami

Calcutta: A victory, finally. After drawing blanks on their tours of South Africa and New Zealand, Team India managed to get back to winning ways.

As India defeated Bangladesh by six wickets in their first outing in the Asia Cup, in Fatullah on Wednesday, captain Virat Kohli made a mark with a sparkling 136.

With openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan failing to make a mark, it was left to the stand-in captain to guide India towards safety, which he did with aplomb. He shared a 213-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (73).

Having ensured victory, and after being declared the Man of the Match, Kohli said he was happy with the way Team India played.

He added that though Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s absence was a big factor, the team members have stepped up to the challenge and made an impact.

The other hero of the Indian innings, Ajinkya Rahane, was all praise for Kohli.

Bangladesh’s Abdur Razzak, gave credit to the Indians but maintained that they played well.

Razzak spoke in the post-match presentation ceremony, as his captain Mushfiqur Rahim had to be rushed to the hospital with a shoulder injury.

Rahim, too, hit a brilliant 117 to help the hosts reach 279 for 7. But his efforts went in vain and India overcame a slow start to cruise to victory with Kohli in command.

This was only the second time in ODI history that both captains got a hundred in the same match.

The first instance of both captains hitting hundreds in an ODI also came recently — between Ireland and England in Dublin last year, when William Porterfield and Eoin Morgan hit centuries.

Courtesy Kohli’s 19th one-day hundred, India recovered well after cheap dismissals of the openers — Dhawan (28) and Rohit (21).

This was India’s first win in 2014.

Rahane, too, played a key role in India’s win as he and Kohli batted together for 33 overs before being separated. India were just 13 runs away from the win when Kohli was castled by pacer Rubel Hossain in the 46th over.

His 136-run knock came off 122 balls with 18 boundaries, including two sixes while Rahane took 83 balls for his innings which had seven fours and a six.

Earlier, Mohammed Shami stole the show, taking four vital wickets for 50 runs and becoming the most successful bowler for India in the match.

But some mindless bowling by India’s third pacer Varun Aaron, did not help India’s cause. Aaron, bowling with uncontrolled pace, gave away 74 from 7.5 overs.

Aaron leaked the runs in two spells, which incidentally was the second highest conceded by a bowler against Bangladesh after United Arab Emirates’ Khurram Khan (78).

Mushfiqur started his innings patiently with Anamul going freely at the other end. But after Anamul’s dismissal, the skipper came into his own, hitting two sixes and seven fours.

The duo was involved in a 133-run third wicket partnership that came after Bangladesh were reduced to 49 for 2 in the 13th over.

Despite the big partnership though, the lower order failed to fire .

Rahim took control of the middle overs with ease as he rotated the strike cleverly and also came up with some lusty blows to unsettle the Indian attack. He took 104 balls for his century. Trying to score as many as runs as possible towards the end, he perished in the final over at deep mid-wicket.

But it all came to a nought in the face of Kohli’s onslaught.

Excerpts:

Virat Kohli (MoM): You tend to get tired when you are playing so many games. But I am very happy with the way the team performed. We bowled really well today (Wednesday), especially in the death overs… The bowlers got the yorkers right and didn’t give away runs easily.

Not having Mahendra Singh Dhoni was a big factor for us. But the boys stepped up and showed that they had the ability to make an impact. We are confident of doing well.

I always thank my dad whenever I score a century or contribute to the team’s cause. Any achievement I do is for him because he worked really hard to help me get where I am today. I’m working really hard every day to put up consistent performances. In fact, that really motivates me and pushes me…

Rotating the strike was really important today… I am happy that we did that. It was also important that Ajinkya (Rahane) score some runs… He was playing so well in New Zealand and South Africa and he played beautifully here too.

He is a very positive guy, he works very hard and is always happy. In fact, he is happy for the success of others too.

Abdur Razzak: Yeah, we thought we had scored enough runs. But, in the end, credit goes to India... the way they went about with their chase.

The dew factor was the main problem. We had not anticipated that it will become such an important factor in the end. But we did play well.

Mushfiqur Rahim has improved a lot and he is playing very well. He is contributing to the team’s cause in a big way. We will have to post a little more runs in these conditions. If we bat first again, we will be looking to score more runs.

Ajinkya Rahane: My plan was to settle down first and then go for the shots. The wicket was not very easy… So the shot selection was very crucial. Virat and I talked about hanging in there till the end and play our natural game. I am glad that we could do that.

We were talking about partnerships… Virat told me to hang around with him and he will do it for our team. Virat is batting so well… I am really learning a lot from him… The way he is behaving on and off the field, it’s incredible.

We have made a great start to the tournament… But we are taking one game at a time.