A lot of things had to go right for Bangladesh if they were to come away with a win in the ICC Champions Trophy semifinal against India at Edgbaston yesterday. Their youngsters had to fire along with the seniors, skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza would have had to call rightly at the toss and Bangladesh's bowlers would have had to keep the lid on a frightening India batting line-up. None of that happened, and the match went according to the formbook as an unbeaten 123 from opener Rohit Sharma and an unconquered 96 from skipper Virat Kohli took India comfortably past Bangladesh's 264 for seven with nine wickets and 9.5 overs to spare.
India will now play a dream final against archrivals Pakistan at The Oval on Sunday.
In their first innings, Bangladesh had the chance to make things much tougher for the defending champions than it eventually turned out to be. Mushfiqur Rahim and opener Tamim Iqbal built a 123-run third-wicket partnership, but just when a total in excess of 320 looked like a real possibility, they fell playing poor shots. Then India's bowling quality took over as Bangladesh were restricted to 264 on a belter of a wicket.
Bangladesh's sole success came in the 15th over of India's chase, when Shikhar Dhawan was caught at point off Mashrafe.
Earlier, Kohli's decision to bowl first bore immediate fruit as the sixth ball of the innings from Bhuvneshwar Kumar ricocheted off the inside edge of Soumya Sarkar's bat, left hanging away from his body, and cannoned into the stumps. Sabbir Rahman, whose role as number three has become an increasingly contentious one, then relieved some of the pressure with a flurry of four boundaries off Jasprit Bumrah and Kumar in the next three overs, lifting Bangladesh to 26 for one after four.
But while Sabbir's strokeplay showed why he is placed in the top order, the manner of his dismissal illustrated why he is not yet mature enough for the pivotal position. He was looking to throw his bat at everything, and after four dot balls in the seventh over Kumar cleverly bowled a slower ball asking to be cut, but ideally cut with some restraint. Instead, Sabbir tried to create the power and consequently hit it in the air to point to walk back with the score on 31 for two. Although the two youngsters everyone was hoping would perform had departed, the ease of Sabbir's strokes in his 21-ball 19 showed that the pitch was a belter, and Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim duly cashed in with a 123-run third-wicket partnership.
Tamim Iqbal continued the run of form that has seen him score 128 in the first match against England and 95 in the second game against Australia, and he looked good for another big one yesterday. Although he did enjoy a slice of luck when, on 16, he was bowled off a no-ball from Hardik Pandya in the 13th over. He however soon hit his straps and started playing his shots, the most eye-catching of which was a down-the-track waltz to Bumrah that resulted in a flicked six over midwicket. He followed that up with three consecutive boundaries off Ravichandran Ashwin in the 22nd over. In between he brought up his 38th ODI 50 off his 62nd ball with a reverse lap sweep over short third man off Ravindra Jadeja in the 19th over.
But the promise of a big total and a sublime partnership in the vein of the Mahmudullah Riyad-Shakib Al Hasan partnership against New Zealand was ended by an unlikely bowler. Occasional off-spinner Kedhar Jadhav, in the 28th over, had bowled two bad balls that were hit straight to the fielders. Frustrated, Tamim went for a slog across the line and was bowled for 70 off 82 balls.
Mushfiqur had been batting in his usual calm, assured manner, notching his 26th ODI half-century off his 61st ball. But when Tamim's dismissal was followed by the departure of Shakib, who was backed into a corner by Jadeja's left-arm spin and edged a cut to keeper MS Dhoni for 15, Mushfiqur should have been looking to rebuild the innings. Instead, as if the plan to hit Jadhav out of the attack was never readjusted following the part-timer's success, Mushfiqur stepped out and hit a full toss straight to a gleeful Kohli at midwicket to be out for an 85-ball 61 and leave the Tigers at 179 for five in the 36th over.
India's death-over bowling machine then took over, and although Mahmudullah Riyad and Mosaddek tried to maximise the runs, both departed in successive overs off Bumrah to leave Bangladesh at 229 for seven at the end of the 45th over. Some lucky and lusty blows from skipper Mashrafe, who finished on an unbeaten 30 off 25 balls, took the Tigers to a barely competitive total when an above-par one was required.