India trampled Bangladesh to ensure that the cricket world will be treated to an India-Pakistan final of the Champs Trophy in London on Sunday.
The Tigers put up something of a fight but the mighty India trounced their neighbours by nine wickets as they restricted them to 264 for seven in 50 overs and then knocked up the requisite runs with the greatest of ease, with ten overs to spare.
It was a near perfect performance from India, who allowed Bangladesh only one meaningful partnership, and enjoyed an easy training run three days out from what promises to be an epic final.
Rohit Sharma (123 not out) was man of the match with a sparkling ton but India’s bowlers deserve credit for restricting the opposition to a total by which they were never realistically going to be troubled.
Virat Kohli won the toss and elected to bowl in a little bit of mizzle that delayed that start by ten minutes. Buvi Kumar (2-53) struck early with the new ball as Bangladesh showed their intent to play positively on a good batting wicket but lost a couple of wickets upfront.
A brave stand between the tournament’s top-scorer Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) then put the pressure back on the trophy favourites.
Tamim had survived a life when he was bowled off a no ball by Pandya, who had a bad day at the office conceding eight runs an over in vain.
The pair mustered a 124-run partnership from just 21 overs. Towards the end of that stand, the experienced duo were consistently managing ten runs per over and with the score on 154 for three in the 28th over, a 300-plus total started to look possible.
Mind you, they were always going to need such a score to have a chance at a spot in an unlikely final.
India did not force the issue and instead seemed to wait for a mistake, which came when Iqbal was a bit early on a big slog-sweep against the slow bowling of Kedar Jadhav (1-18)
Bangladesh would not manage another significant partnership. Every batsman got something of a start but none managed to push on as spinners Ravi Jadeja (1-48), Ravi Ashwin (0-54) and Jadhav kept them in check.
Shakib-al-Hasan (15) edged Jadeja and when Jasprit Bumrah (2-39) had Mosadek Hossein caught and bowled and then clean bowled Mahmudullah (21), Bangladesh had collapsed to 229 for seven with only five overs remaining.
Mashrafe Mortaza (30 not out) and Taskin Ahmed (10*) somehow kept their wickets intact but could only manage 35 runs off the final five overs. 264 was simply never going to be enough.
India replied as if they were under zero pressure, whatsoever, as they coolly and calmly went about their business in the chase.
Rohit was simply sublime as he timed the ball with ease to all parts of the ground. Dhawan (46) batted at a strike rate of 150 and also looked in impeccable touch before he holed out to Mashrafe (1-29), the only bowler that the Indians showed an ounce of respect.
It was also all too easy for Virat Kohli (96*), who will likely rue the fact that he missed out on a low-hanging hundred but he certainly didn’t bat much within himself as he faced only 78 balls.
This was a straightforward victory for India as they marched into the final ahead of a side that had a great tournament and can hold their heads up high when they return to Dhaka.
Edgbaston was just about full, once again almost entirely with Indian fans, having a ball. But there is no doubt that this was just a warm-up dance for Sunday has the making of the biggest match in cricket for years.
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