BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – India put on a display of composed and confident batting as they cruised into the final of the Champions Trophy with a nine-wicket victory over Bangladesh on Thursday, setting up a clash with old rivals Pakistan on Sunday.
A masterful unbeaten 123 from Rohit Sharma at Edgbaston steered the defending champions to victory with nearly 10 overs to spare after they were set a target of 265 by Bangladesh, playing in their first semi-final of a major tournament.
Sharma shared a 178 run partnership with Virat Kohli, who ended unbeaten on 96 as India dominated against a modest Bangladeshi bowling attack, which never managed to create any real pressure.
The Tigers will feel they failed to put up a big enough target, but with their opponents completing the task with 59 balls remaining, it was hard to imagine a scenario where India would have lost this game.
“It was another complete game. We needed to have a clean, collective game. We didn’t expect to win by nine wickets, but that’s the quality of our top order,” said skipper Kohli.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said his team would learn from the experience.
“We could have scored 300, even 320, but our set batsmen getting out was a setback to us. Next time, we’ll come back strongly. We need to learn. Skill-wise we’re fine, but mentally we need to be stronger,” he said.
An entertaining 123 run third wicket partnership between Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim put Bangladesh in a strong position, but their middle order failed to fully capitalise on that foundation.
Bangladesh ended their 50 overs on 264 for seven after Tamim top scored with 70 and Mushfiqur made 61, but with a stronger middle and lower order contribution they would have expected to reach around 300.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed two early wickets for India – Soumya Sarkar dragging on in the first over and then Sabbir Rahman slashing a short ball to Ravindra Jadeja at backward point to leave Bangladesh at 36 for two.
Tamim was fortunate when he was bowled by Hardik Panya off a no-ball when he was on 17, but he took good advantage of the reprieve.
Together with Mushfiqur, Tamim took the game to India with some aggressive batting, taking calculated risks and scoring at a brisk pace as they brought up the century partnership off 104 balls with 10 fours and one six.
The breakthrough came after India had managed to slow down the run-rate and with the pressure on, Tamim lost his composure, bowling the part-time off-spin of Kedar Jadhav as he attempted a wild slog.
Shakib Al Hasan was superbly caught, off a bottom edge by MS Dhoni, stood up to spinner Ravindra Jadeja and then Jadhav, an unlikely source of trouble with his tame spin, struck again with the crucial wicket of Mushfiqur, whose mistimed shot was snaffled up by Virat Kohli at mid-wicket.
Bangladesh badly needed Mahmudullah, a century maker in the win over New Zealand last week, to regain the momentum but he was only able to make 21 off 25 balls before being bowled by a fine Jasprit Bumrah yorker.
India were positive from the outset of their response, reaching 63 without loss in the first 10 overs, and the departure of Shikhar Dhawan (46) with the score at 87 merely allowed Kohli to join in the fun with Sharma.