A sublime innings by a fortunate Rohit Sharma condemned Bangladesh to a 45-run loss in the Asia Cup T20 in Mirpur last night. It might have been different as the normally T20-reticent Tigers sprang off the blocks with their pacers, who responded brilliantly on a green pitch at Mirpur in the opener to put India under pressure after Mashrafe Bin Mortaza decided to give his four-pronged pace attack an opportunity to exploit the favourable conditions. India limped to 52 for three in ten overs. Then came that ill-fated over for the home team and the complexion of the game totally changed, with India wresting the initiative away from the Tigers. Young paceman Taskin Ahmed set the tone, bowling brilliantly with good pace and when he was on his toes to celebrate his first success at a crucial juncture of the match in the 11th over, Shakib Al Hasan not only disappointed him but also committed the cardinal sin of dropping match hero Rohit Sharma, who was then on 21 off 25 balls.
The right-hander made no mistake to capitalise on his life as he celebrated it with a four, six and then again a four -- the last courtesy of misfielding from Al-Amin -- to release his side from the early pressure. The classy right-hander then started to lash the balls to and over the fence in style as the setback also saw the hosts serving up loose deliveries. Rohit however deserved credit for the way he paced his 83, which came from 55 deliveries and with the help of seven four and three sixes, in trying conditions. Hardik Pandya joined him to hammer 31 from 18 balls which helped India plunder 69 runs from the last five overs and set a challenging 167-run target for Bangladesh.
There was however no one from the Bangladesh tent who could follow in the footsteps of Rohit. Once again in chase of a demanding target Bangladesh's batting showed that they were yet to learn how to pace an innings. Their fate was written on the wall when they were reduced to 82 for five inside 15 overs.
Earlier, Al-Amin Hossain gave the first breakthrough removing Shikhar Dhawan who left a big gap to an incoming delivery, after Taskin set the tone. Mustafizur Rahman, who was the centre of attraction, was brought into the attack in the fourth over and the left-arm pacer also made a good start giving away only three runs in his first over. Captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza claimed the prized wicket of Virat Kohli as the right-hander mistimed a lofted drive to mid-off and the near capacity crowd erupted like the early afternoon thunder.
Spin was introduced in the eighth over when Mahmudullah Riyad picked up Suresh Raina and Shakib also did a good job. The stage was thus set for the home side but India made the dramatic comeback courtesy of Sharma and Shakib.
While Soumya Sarkar took a brilliant catch in the deep to send Rohit Sharma back in the last over, by then it was too late and ultimately it once again turned out that Bangladesh's batting lacked the nuances for T20 cricket.