India cantered to a nine-wicket win over Bangladesh in a lopsided second semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy at the Edgbaston Stadium here on Thursday, setting up a clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the final.
Chasing 265 to win after electing to field first, the defending champions did not flinch for one moment as Rohit Sharma scored his 11th career ton (123 not out) and captain Virat Kohli notched up his 42nd fifty (96 not out) to stitch up an unbeaten 178-run partnership for the second wicket. India won the match with 59 balls to spare.
While Sharma’s innings was laced with 15 fours and one six, Kohli smashed 13 boundaries.
Kohli, in the process, became the fastest cricketer in the world to reach 8,000 runs in ODIs in just 175 innings.
Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Sharma were off to a rollicking start in the first six overs.
Left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman was taken to the cleaners as Dhawan smacked his Indian Premier League (IPL) teammate for two back-to-back fours in his very first over, while Sharma hit three boundaries in his second over.
The defending champions raced to 50 in 7.5 overs with Dhawan hitting a four down the leg side off Taskin Ahmed to re-take the top spot in the run-making charts eclipsing Tamim Iqbal. He followed it up with a huge six over square-leg.
After the first 10 overs of mandatory powerplay, India were 63/0.
India were sailing smoothly when opposition skipper Mashrafe Mortaza rocked their ship, getting the prized wicket of Dhawan, who had made a quickfire (46; 34b; 7×4, 1×6). Trying to maintain his tempo, the Delhi batter came down the track and looked to hit over mid-off only to gift an easy catch to Mosaddek Hossain at point.
At the other end, Sharma clipped Shakib Al Hasan down to long-on to bring up his third half century of the tournament. India got to 100/1 in 16.2 overs with Kohli joining him in the middle and announcing his arrival with a Sachin Tendulkar-esque straight drive down the ground off Mustafizur. He followed it up with two more boundaries off the same bowler one over later including a magnificient cover drive.
At the halfway stage of the innings, India were cruising at 164/1 needing another 101 runs for victory when Sharma hooked Mustafizur for a six to bring up his century.
Earlier, riding on fluent half centuries from opener Tamim Iqbal and stumper Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh posted 264/7.
Tamim (70) and Mushfiqur (61) posted a 123-run third-wicket partnership to steady the Bangladesh ship after the tigers were reduced to 36/2.
Pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/53) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/40) maintained a strict line to halt Bangladesh’s scoring rate while part-timer Kedar Jadhav (2/22) emerged as the surprise package.
Despite Bhuvneshwar sweeping up opener Soumya Sarkar (0) and one-down Sabbir Rahman (19), the counter-attacking intent from the Bangladesh batsmen kept the scoreboard ticking.
Kohli’s gamble to bowl Jadhav after all-rounder Hardik Pandya was smashed all over the park, worked wonders for the team as the off-spinner managed to break the century stand between Tamim and Mushfiqur.
Jadhav, who was handed the ball for the first time in the tournament, deceived Tamim with a straight delivery which the southpaw failed to read and instead lost his leg stump while attempting a cross-bat stroke.
The wicket of the dangerous Tamim, who struck seven boundaries and a six, changed the complexion of the game, as Bangladesh failed to keep up the momentum from a comfortable 161/2 after 30 overs to only muster 264/7 by the end.
Incoming batsman Shakib Al Hasan (15) fell cheaply to left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja before Jadhav once again struck with the crucial wicket of Rahim, who failed to clear midwicket where Kohli latched on to a comfortable catch.
Middle-order batsmen Hossain (15) and Mahmudullah (21) — who was dropped on four by Ravichandran Ashwin — failed to rise to the occasion with both sent back by Bumrah in quick succession.
Thereafter, Mortaza (30 not out) and tailender Taskin Ahmed (11 not out) put on a 35-run undefeated eighth-wicket stand to help the side reach 264.