India level series through a convincing win at Rajkot
A 43-ball 85 from Rohit Sharma, in his 100th T20I, helped India chase down 154 with 26 balls to spare and draw level in the T20I series against Bangladesh. It was Rohit's third –quickest innings of 50 or more in T20Is, and it made a below-par Bangladesh total - at the presentation, their captain Mahmudullah reckoned they finished 25-30 runs short of par - look utterly inadequate in flat batting conditions in Rajkot here on Thursday evening(Nov.7)
Rohit came into this series having just scored three hundreds, including a double, in three Tests against South Africa, and all that form was on display today on a Rajkot pitch brimming with runs. Every shot he played along the ground seemed to find a gap, whether he was pulling or driving or cutting or even occasionally when he was simply defending with a slightly open face - one such shot, off Al-Amin Hossain in the fifth over of India's innings, raced away unstoppably between backward point and short third man,
The results were even more spectacular when he went aerial. There were six sixes in his innings - everyone else, on both sides, only managed two between them - including three in a row off Mosaddek Hossain's offspin in the tenth over. The second of them, which brought up the century opening stand with Shikhar Dhawan, took Rohit to 70.
Dhawan, at that point, was batting on 28 off 24 balls. Bangladesh managed to keep one opener quiet by denying him width, but none of their plans had any impact on the other.
Sent in to bat, Bangladesh enjoyed a productive powerplay, getting to 54 for 0 courtesy a mixture of urgency from their openers and some erratic bowling and fielding from India.
Khaleel Ahmed, the left-arm quick, had been hit for four successive fours off his last four balls in Delhi. He followed that up by conceding three successive fours off his first three balls here, making it seven in all. Khaleel was guilty of bowling a touch too short on a pitch where the ball sat up nicely, and Mohammad Naim put him away whenever there was a chance to play the pull or the straight-bat jab through midwicket.
At the other end, Liton Das enjoyed a massive stroke of luck when he was stranded yards down the pitch by a Yuzvendra Chahal legbreak in the sixth over. Rishabh Pant gathered the ball without trouble and stumped him, but third umpire Anil Chaudhary ruled that he had collected the ball marginally in front of the stumps. Liton hit the next two balls - the first of them a free-hit - for fours, to add insult to injury.
There would be a near-repeat in the 13th over when Chahal beat the advancing Soumya Sarkar with a wrong'un, but on that occasion Chaudhary ruled that Pant had gathered the ball behind the stumps - replays suggested it was another marginal decision.
At that point, Bangladesh was 103 for 4. Their last seven overs had only brought them 49 runs for the cost of four wickets. India's two main spinners, Chahal and Washington Sundar, were chiefly responsible for keeping them quiet. Chahal, getting the ball to grip, used his variations well, and picked up two wickets. He could have had a third if he had had an lbw appeal against Liton upheld in the eighth over after beating him with his googly, but Liton, unaware of where the ball ended up after hitting his pad, hared out of his crease and ran himself out anyway.
Washington, varying his pace intelligently and bowling an irritating length - he later said he looks to get the ball to bounce up to hip height when it reaches the batsman - proved difficult to go after, and Bangladesh only managed 25 off his four overs.
Bangladesh never really regained the lost momentum. There were a pair of bright knocks from Sarkar (30 off 20) and Mahmudullah (30 off 21), but the rest of the Bangladesh batsmen didn't really get going. Khaleel continued to go for runs, conceding 22 off his two overs at the death, but the rest of the bowlers didn't give the batsmen the pace or the lengths to work with. Chahal, dangling the ball wide of off stump and denying the right-hand batsmen easy access to the leg side, and Deepak Chahar, using the slower bouncer adroitly, gave away only eight runs between them in the 18th and 19th overs.