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Bangladesh upset India
17 Mar 2007
By: Sudeep Popat


India's World Cup campaign got off to the worst of starts, as Bangladesh defeated them by five wickets in both side's first match of the tournament, at Port-of-Spain. Three relative new-comers scored half centuries as the minnows reached a modest target of 192 quite easily in the end with nine balls to spare, after dismissing a star-studded Indian batting line-up within the 50 overs for a meager 191.

Winning the toss and batting first, India got off to a shaky start being reduced, at one stage, to 40-3 off 15 overs. The Bangladeshi seamers made sure that the formidable Indian batting line-up did not intimidate them, and put in an inspired performance. Mashrafe Mortaza, who was definitely the pick of the bowlers through the innings, picked up Virender Sehwag in his second over for just two, when the attacking opener clipped an off-cutter onto his stumps to carry on his disappointing run with the bat. Robin Uthappa, considered a Sehwag prodigy when it comes to throwing his bat around, too did not last long, as Mortaza had him caught at point for only nine. And when Sachin Tendulkar was accounted for by Abdur Razzak, caught behind off an inside edge for seven, India surely seemed in a spot of trouble.

Sourav Ganguly was a quiet spectator while the bowlers dismissed the Indian top order, himself scoring just five runs in the first 10 overs of the innings. However, slowly but steadily he got his eye in, just like he has done consistently since returning to international cricket. He lost the Indian skipper, Rahul Dravid at the other end on the way, but it was his partnership with Yuvraj Singh that looked to bring India back into the match and at top. Dravid was taken out by the old horse Mohammad Rafique, when he failed to contact a flick, and was found in front of the wickets, with the ball heading towards the leg stump.

Ganguly and Yuvraj then shared a 85-run partnership, which started off at a slow pace, with Ganguly content to play out more deliveries having been the one to have already set in. India's 100 was brought up in the 34th over, way too slower than they would have hoped at the onset of the innings, but with the two left-handers there in the middle and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to follow, there was still hope of getting to a score that Bangladesh would have difficulty in chasing. Starting at this stage, Yuvraj started to open his arms, hitting the first six of the innings in the 42nd over to bring up India's 150.

However, India was entirely rescued by that time, and needed at least one, if not both the batsmen to play out the innings. Any hope of this happening was snatched away by the Bangladeshi spinners who have been known to bowl well at the end, as first Yuvraj and then Ganguly were dismissed within a space of four balls. Yuvraj was the first to go for 47 when he top-edged to fine leg off the bowling of Razzak. Ganguly was caught at mid-wicket off Rafique for 66, not getting the ball in the middle of the bat after charging to the bowler.

The left-arm spinners then dismissed Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh in quick succession, both without scoring, to be followed by Ajit Agakar who was caught behind off Mortaza who returned to the attack, again for a duck, thus putting India at a score of 159-9, and in danger of not even playing out their stipulated 50 overs. However, Bangladesh could not really close out the innings until the last over, as Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel shared a 32-run partnership, with both the tail-enders hitting two fours each, thus taking India to 191. Munaf was dismissed in the last over by Mortaza when he mistimed an attempted thump over the cover to Razaak.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, began their innings chasing the modest target with a bang, despite losing one early wicket, that of Shahriar Nafees to Zaheer. 17-year-old Tamim Iqbal, playing only in his fifth ODI, blasted an almost a-run-a-ball half century. Showing supreme confidence, he blasted Zaheer for 15 in one over. His innings consisted of seven boundaries and two maximums. The shot of the match was surely his six off Zaheer in that over, where he charged down the track and walloped a big one over the mid-wicket. He followed that up with another six in the next over off Munaf Patel, thick edging an inswinger over the fine leg boundary.

Even after the positive start, Bangladesh were at one stage in danger of throwing it all away when Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed followed in quick succession to Munaf, thus being reduced to 79-3 in 16 overs. Iqbal, who survived a dropped catch at 49, was dismissed caught behind the wicket by Dhoni off a regulation edge. Ahmed was found plumb in front off a fullish delivery. Bangladesh could have easily faltered at this stage, holding on to their reputation of throwing away chances of winning in close contests. Unfortunately for India, it was not to be.

Two unheard names, Mushfiqur Rahim and Saqibul Hasan proved to be heroes for the Tigers though, as they shared a patient 84-run partnership to guide the minnows out of trouble. While Rahim, the side's wicket-keeper for the tournament, was the quieter of the partner, Hasan, widely regarded as one of the most upcoming youngsters in the side, amassed runs at the other end, in the process going to his fifty. The fact that the duo did not need to score at a blistering pace thanks to Iqbal's early onslaught, meant that they did not have to take any risks and hit only the bad deliveries. Saqibul, the more aggressive of the two, hit five fours and one six in his innings of 53. When he was dismissed however, by Sehwag stumped by Dhoni, Bangladesh were well in the driver's seat with two of their best batsmen Habibul Bashar and Mohammad Ashraful still to come.

Even though Bashar lost his wicket without scoring much, a similar dismissal to that of Hasan's, India still needed a miracle to come back and close out the Bangladesh innings. Rahim and Ashraful made sure that they gave no chance of that happening, guiding the underdogs through to 192 with nine balls to spare. Rahim passed his half century on the way, putting the silver lining on one of the most important innings he will ever play.

This might not be the greatest upset of all World Cups. However, what this match has done has inserted enough interest in Group B matches, with India having no other option but to win their remaining two matches, against Bermuda and Sri Lanka, to have a chance of making it to the next round.

India 191 all out in 49.3 overs
Sourav Ganguly 66 (129), Yuvraj Singh 47 (58)
Mashrafe Mortaza 4-38 (9.3), Abdur Razzak 3-38 (10), Mohammad Rafique 3-35 (10)

Bangladesh 192-5 in 48.3 overs
Tamim Iqbal 51 (53), Mushfiqur Rahim 56* (107), Saqibul Hasan 53 (86)
Munaf Patel 2-39 (8.3), Virender Sehwag 2-17 (5)

Man of the Match: Mashrafe Mortaza (Bangladesh)

Bangladesh won by five wickets

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