Records were broken at the Queen’s Park Oval when India gave Bermuda a solid thrashing. It was a victory with the largest margin ever in ODIs, India did beat Bermuda by 257 runs, but the questions about India’s fate in entering the next round are still unanswered! But first things first, Dravid’s team which had their backs to the wall got the win and got it in giant size after the batsmen had fired up on all cylinders.
On a spicy track under overcast conditions at Port of Spain, India were put into bat first by Irvine Romaine. An unbelievable catch at first slip by a diving Dwayne Leverock put the blues under pressure with Uthappa once again playing away from his body. Sehwag, dropped down at no.3 joined the calm and collected Sourav Ganguly to find some lost confidence. Once it was found then it was time for some serious bashing. Ganguly did the right thing in giving as much as strike to Sehwag and he joined the party once the platform was laid. Sehwag blazed away to a rapid century, one that eluded him for nearly three years. His adventure came to an end in the 30th over with India at 205 for 2. Sehwag plundered 114 from 87 with 17 fours and 3 sixes. Ganguly helped himself to 89 from 114 with 6 fours and 2 sixes before getting stumped out in the 35th over.
Dhoni and Yuvraj were promoted up the batting order and the former fell after scoring a cameo (29 from 25) to reduce India to 269 for 4 in the 39th over. India like in the match against Bangladesh seemed to have lost their way with wickets going down at the wrong time. But Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar rescued them with scorching half centuries. Yuvraj sizzled with 83 from just 46 with 3 fours and 7 sixes while Sachin stayed till the end on 57 from 29 with 2 fours and 4 sixes. Rahul Dravid did his bit in finishing the innings with a six. The total that was put on the board was 413 for 5 which is the highest ever in the World Cup history, so was the 18 sixes that were blasted! The minimum that was expected from the famed batsmen was 350 but they got well past 400 to be on the safer side with net run rate clearly going to play its role to decide if at all there is a toss up between two teams to qualify for the super eights. The Bermudian bowling had obliged the Indian batsmen and in particular Dwayne Leverock, who flighted the ball generously to be taken for the most expensive figures in a World Cup (10 overs limited) with 1 for 96 from 10!
India had to do a ruthless job with the ball, they had to clean up Bermuda for a cheap total, perhaps under 100. Zaheer Khan made the inroads with two wickets but the rest of the wickets came at a cost in terms of runs and overs bowled. The man who seemed to be spoiling India’s party was left hander David Hemp. He was undefeated till the end with 76 from 105 with 9 fours and a six which not only reduced the margin of defeat well under 300 but also made the Indians sweat it out. Hemp shared a couple of annoying partnerships from the Indian point of view, first with Minors which was worth 43 and then for the ninth wicket with Leverock, adding up 44 in over 10 overs! Bermuda’s innings only folded after 43.1 overs for 156. The Indians struggled to do the clean up job. Anil Kumble (replaced Harbhajan in this match) and Agarkar were the most successful with three wickets apiece although they never looked menacing enough. It was no doubt a huge win for the stronger opposition, but it’s unclear whether the Indian team followers and the players themselves should be totally happy with it or not. For the record, Virender Sehwag was given the Man of the Match award.
The big one and the deciding one would be against Sri Lanka on the 23rd. Dravid’s men would like to carry the confidence from their recent series victory against the Islanders back home! So it will be a nervous wait in the next couple of days as the future of the Indian team in this tournament unfolds!