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Dhoni, Kohli save the day for India

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MS Dhoni registered his 7th ODI hundred at MirpurIndia managed to pull off a good win against a spirited Bangladesh in the 3rd Match of the Idea Cup. Needing a near 300-run target to chase, India was rocked back losing three big wickets inside 10 overs. Bangladesh were the favourites to win the match from this situation but the ever so cool MS Dhoni broke the hearts of thousands of spectators in the stadium with a big match-winning partnership with young Virat Kohli.

It was a shocking decision from Shakib Al Hasan to elect to bat first after winning the toss. The Tigers went against the common thinking to take the risk of bowling under wet conditions under the lights! Fortunately their batting fired to complement Shakib’s decision. The Indian bowlers were kept under pressure by Tamim Iqbal who seems to be giving shades of the scare that Saeed Anwar used to give to India a few years back. Sreesanth almost provided an early wicket but for a sitter dropped by Harbhajan Singh at mid wicket off a miscued pull from opener Imrul Kayes.

Imrul Kayes made most of the dropped chance to help Tamim Iqbal in putting up a flying start for the hosts. MS Dhoni even had to delay the bowling powerplay but could take it in the 12th over with Tamim Iqbal (60 from 42 balls with 10 fours and a six) pulling Sreesanth straight into the hands of Gambhir at wide mid wicket. The left hander put up 80 for the first wicket in just 11 overs.

Former Skipper Mohammad Ashraful continued to play the sheet anchor for his team like in the first match against Sri Lanka. He kept the momentum going along with left handed Imrul Kayes before being too cheeky in a late cut attempted right infront of the off stump to get clean bowled. Ravindra Jadeja was the bowler removing Ashraful (29 from 48 balls) at 148 for 2 in the 28th over. In the next over, India strongly got back in the game when Shakib Al Hasan in an attempted second run was found short of the non-striker’s end by a Zaheer Khan throw from long off. The Bangladeshi Skipper faced only one ball before he got run out for a duck.

In the 35th over, Imrul Kayes (70 from 100 balls with 5 fours and a six) top edged his pull off Ashish Nehra to deep squareleg to put his team in a spot of bother at 188 for 4. The pressure piled up on the hosts now and little Mushfiqur Rahim was a victim to that cutting Yuvraj into the hands of point to make it 206 for 5 in the 38th over. Raqibul Hasan (32 from 40 balls with 1 four and a six) followed him after few overs getting clean bowled playing a reverse sweep off a Harbhajan Singh yorker.

The dangerous Naeem Islam joined Mahmudullah at 238 for 6 in the 45th over. The Bangladeshis had taken their batting powerplay during this period and could comeback strongly thanks to a brilliant unbeaten 60 off just 45 balls (with 8 fours) from the well built Mahmudullah. Naeem Islam gave plenty of strike to him through an unbeaten 14 (from 15 balls) and Bangladesh finished with a superb 296 for 6!

The pick of the bowlers for India was surprisingly Yuvraj Singh with 10-0-33-1! The three fast bowlers were dissapointing, particularly Ashish Nehra struggled with his noballs. Harbhajan Singh had to bowl within the first powerplay itself and had a mixed day with 9-0-56-1. He had a bad outing on the field dropping two catches.

The Indian chase got its first jolt when Virender Sehwag took off for a crazy single to lose his wicket in the 4th over. He drove one back to the bowler Razzak who misfielded it and Sehwag (13 from 8 balls) took off for the run, the ball didn’t go away far enough and the bowler fired a direct throw for the run out. Gambhir (18 from 24 balls) followed his opening partner in the 8th over dragging a drive on the up off Rubel Hossain onto the leg stump. In the 9th over, thousands of fans danced on their feet when left armer Syed Rasel swung one late into Yuvraj Singh to knock the off stump. Yuvraj played inside the line without covering his off stump to leave India at 51 for 3!

Bangladesh certainly had a firm grip on the game but for India it was only a matter of keeping the heads down and put up a partnership. Virat Kohli did exactly that in the company of MS Dhoni. Batting was very easy with the ball coming onto the bat, there was no need of any footwork as well. There was no spin at all and all the two Indian batsmen had to do was just to knock four to five singles every over. Bangladesh couldn’t exert any pressure at all and the Indians cruised past the 200 without any further damage.

The hosts finally got their breakthrough in the 35th over when a tired Virat Kohli (91 from 102 balls with 7 fours) was beaten in the flight to give a return catch to left arm spinner Shakib. Kohli who had batted with a runner in Gambhir for a few minutes due to cramps had put on a solid partnership of 152 with Dhoni. When Kohli departed, the match was still open with 94 to get from 90 balls. Suresh Raina kept his cool and put up another good partnership with MS Dhoni. The pair took India home with 15 balls to spare.

MS Dhoni eased his way to a 7th ODI century. His knock didn’t have any aerial shots but there was plenty of quick running between the wickets. He and Kohli struck the ball powerfully along the ground and the wet outfield caused quite a few fumbles from the fielders. Dhoni remained unbeaten on 101 from 107 balls with 9 fours. Raina freed his arms towards the end to get to an unbeaten 51 from 43 balls with 5 fours and a six over extra covers which finished the match in style. Dhoni got the Man of the Match.

Revised Timings : The remaining four games of the Tri-Series will start 30 minutes early to counter the dew conditions.