The green wave that swept the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Wednesday night and the green top on offer couldn’t change the fortunes of the ‘Men in Green’ as they went down to India by 45 runs in their Asia Cup opener. A Rohit Sharma special (83; 55 balls, 4×7, 3×6), coupled with a good all-round show by Hardik Pandya (31 off 18 with the willow and 1-23 with the ball) were enough to silence the partisan crowd which had turned up in full strength.
In pursuit of a stiff target of 167, Bangladesh started off poorly losing their openers Soumya Sarkar (11, 1×4) and Mohammad Mithun (1) in quick succession before Sabbir Rahman (44, 2×4, 2×6) and Imrul Kayes (14, 1×4) added 35 in 6.3 overs to halt India’s charge for a while.
With Bangladesh needing 116 in the last 10 overs, Shakib Al Hasan walked in. However, a miscommunication in the middle with Sabbir led to Shakib (3) being run out in the 13th over, which pretty much ended Bangladesh’s chase as they managed just 121-7 from their quota of 20 overs. For India, Ashish Nehra (3-23) was the wrecker in chief, operating on a tight channel and not giving away any easy runs. Jasprit Bumrah and R Ashwin ended with identical figures of 1-23 each.
The first half of the contest saw Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya help India finish at 166 for 6, a total which at one stage looked unlikely. While Rohit took time to get into the groove, Hardik was on the money from the word go. The duo added a quick-fire 61 from just 4.3 overs for the 5th wicket that gave India the impetus which had been missing in their innings till that point, thanks to some incisive bowling by Bangladesh. While Rohit was severe on skipper Mashrafe Mortaza (32 runs from 15 deliveries faced), Hardik took special liking for left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman–hitting 19 runs from 9 balls faced. The two ensured India fetched a hefty 67 runs in the last 5 overs.
Rohit’s knock wasn’t without a blemish. When on 21, Rohit was grassed by Shakib at point off Taskin Ahmed (0-22) in the 11th over of the Indian innings, a drop that proved costly. Earlier in the evening, Bangladesh inserted India in on a wicket where run-making wasn’t the smoothest of exercise. The move paid off as the hosts dismissed Shikhar Dhawan (2), Virat Kohli (8, 1×4) and Suresh Raina (13, 2×4) by the 8th over. Al-Amin Hossain shone with 337.
In the company of Yuvraj Singh (15, 1×4), Rohit rebuilt the innings with a 55-run stand in 7 overs. Yuvraj, who played a patchy knock, departed after holing out to Soumya Sarkar at deep mid-wicket off Shakib (1-15) that left India at 97 for 4 in the 15th over. Once Hardik walked in, the tide changed in India’s favour.