Rohit Sharma blasted a strokeful century as defending champions India stormed into the semifinals of the ICC World Cup 2015 by thrashing a hapless Bangladesh by 109 runs in a lop-sided contest here on Thursday.
Riding on Rohit’s spectacular 137 off 126 balls and his rollicking 122-run fourth wicket stand in only 15.5 overs with the belligerent Suresh Raina (65), India were able to post a commendable 302 for six after opting to bat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
In reply, Bangladesh were never in the contention as India hardly took their foot off the pedal to dismiss their neighbours for a paltry 193 in 45 overs without hardly breaking a sweat. The juggernaut continues to roll on for Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men who have now recorded their seventh win on the trot in this mega event.
India will now meet the winner of the third quarterfinal between Australia and Pakistan at Sydney on March 26.
The victory took the tally of India’s successive World Cup victories to 11, including four in the last edition, as it was yet another easy outing for the title contenders.
Such has been India’s domination that whenever they have batted first in the tournament, they have scored 300 or more and taken all 70 opposition wickets in seven matches so far.
Umesh Yadav (4/31 in 9 overs) was bang on target during his entire spell despite a flurry of boundaries in Tamim Iqbal’s run-a-ball 25 that ended with Dhoni taking a low catch off the bowler.
Imrul Kayes (5) was run-out due to a mix-up. Two in-form players in left-hander Soumya Sarkar (29) and Mahmudullah Riyadh (21) steadied the ship with 40 run stand before Shikhar Dhawan took an acrobatic catch to get rid of the latter on the boundary line.
Once Mahmudullah was gone there was an air of inevitability about the result with Soumya Sarkar being caught by Dhoni diving to his left and Shakib Al Hasan caught at backward point of Jadeja.
Mohammed Shami (2/37 in 8 overs) took his wickets tally to 17 while Ravichandran Ashwin (0/30 in 10 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (2/42 in 8 overs) again operated well in tandem with big MCG boundaries as cushion.
The day however belonged to Rohit, who hit his seventh ODI hundred with 14 boundaries and three sixes to his credit while Raina with seven fours and a big six off Shakib Al Hasan played an equally attractive as well as game-changing knock off 57 balls.
Rohit’s penchant for scoring big hundred was again evident as he now has two ODI hundreds at the iconic MCG (he has scored 138 vs Australia) and he got runs when it mattered the most, in a crunch game, with his team under pressure.
While the Mumbaikar paced his innings brilliantly scoring the first 50 off 70 balls and the next 87 runs off only 56 balls, the left-hander from UP was more adventurous in his shot selection as he treated both pacers and spinners with equal disdain.
Despite scoring two half-centuries, Rohit has had a quiet tournament. So the very first ball bowled by rival captain Mashrafe was hit through the covers and certainly calmed his nerves. He also had a firm push back past the same bowler for a boundary.
Shikhar Dhawan also handsomely drove Taskin Ahmed in the very next over as Indian openers were off the blocks.
Mashrafe introduced Nasir Hossain’s part-time off-spin as early as sixth over and Rohit quickly cashed in on the opportunity to loft him over extra cover for a boundary.
While Shikhar was happy to rotate the strike, Rohit did hit some audacious shots. It included a six down the ground off Nasir as 50 runs came in 9.3 overs.
The first 15 overs yielded 70 runs and the first wicket fell in the 17th over when team’s key player Shakib al Hasan was brought into the attack. He induced Dhawan with a tossed up ball to come out for the drive and miss it as Mushfiqur Rahim completed the stumping.
Rubel, then got rid of an out of form Virat Kohli as he got a thickish edge to a fuller delivery from Rubel Hossain as Rahim completed formalities.
Rubel, the fastest bowler (he clocked nearly 147 kmph) to have ever played for Bangladesh, troubled Dhawan, Kohli and even Rohit to some extent working up brisk pace. His first spell of six overs cost him only 14 runs and the final figures of 1/56 in 10 overs were somehow damaged by Raina and Rohit.
Ajinkya Rahane (19) was not in his elements as he could not clear Shakib, who took a smart catch off Taskin’s bowling as India were in a little bit of trouble at 115 for 3.
But it was the entry of Raina in the 29th over that completely changed the course of the proceedings. Raina started taking on the bowlers which also enabled Rohit to play his natural game.
Raina’s delicate back cut between cover and point fielder was one of the stand-out shots as was his huge six off Shakib.
Gaining confidence, Rohit inched towards his century with a steer that got him to 96. The century came with a double towards deep extra cover off Mortaza’s bowling.
Raina on the otherhand was out trying to give Mashrafe the charge as the ball ballooned for Rahim to complete the catch.
Rohit however upped the ante hitting Rubel and Taskin for a six each.
It was Taskin, who had something to cheer as he got rid of Rohit with a yorker but the opener had done more than enough by then.