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Tigers make India meow!

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Bangladesh have stunned the cricketing world by causing a major upset against a powerful India at Port of Spain. The Indian team had all the big guns when it came to batting and bowling, but it was the exuberance of youth and the weapon of surprise package that had out-powered India in this Group B fixture. It was simply hard to digest the fact that Bangladesh won courtesy of a few teenagers against a famed opposition. The result at the Queen’s Park Oval was ‘Bangladesh won by 5 wickets’.

Rahul Dravid won the toss and decided to take first strike which proved to be an incorrect decision from the beginning. There was freshness in the wicket and the two pacers – Mashrafe Mortaza and Syed Rasel looking threatening to pick up a wicket off each and every delivery. India lost two quick wickets thanks to pathetic shot selection from Opener Virender Sehwag (going for a cut, cramped for room to be bowled off the inside edge) and Uthappa, the one drop batsman (driving on the up to a good length ball) from Mortaza. Syed Rasel at the other end was complementing Mortaza who was touching almost 145kmph speeds. Ganguly and Tendulkar saw through the new ball spell and India started to repair the damages done. But they lost the wickets of Tendulkar (down the track, only to get an inside edge that was caught by the keeper off Abdur Razzak) and Dravid (flicking the first delivery he was facing off Rafique against the turn to be lbw). India was in deep trouble at 72 for 4. I thought that Bangladesh had done a mistake in not having a third seamer in Shahadat Hossain to sustain the pressure after the first 10-12 overs. But I was proved wrong as the Tigers found their success in using a slow left arm trio.

If the Tigers weren’t picking up a wicket they were atleast making sure that the runs were kept dry. Young Sakib al Hasan completed the left arm spin trio and he did his bit in bowling an economical spell. With two left handers on the park in Ganguly and Yuvraj, India found it much easier to resurrect their innings. The two southpaws did a magnificent job and were just warming up to play their big shots. India looked alright until the fourth ball of the 43rd over in which Yuvraj Singh was caught at short fine leg, getting a top edge in his sweep off Razzak. He departed at a personal score of 47 (from 58 balls with 3 fours and a sweep for a six). It was 157 for 5 which soon shockingly became 158 for 6 and then 159 for 7 and a little while later 159 for 9! Ganguly was the first to go in this collapse dragging a big shot to short mid wicket while Dhoni played a late cut into the hands of short third man with both the batsmen falling to Rafique. Ganguly was the top scorer with 66 from 129 with 4 boundaries which was an ideal innings but he fell at the wrong time. India managed to pull off 191 on the board thanks to an unexpected stand of 32 for the last wicket between Zaheer (15*) and Munaf (15). Mortaza added two more wickets in the end while it was three wickets apiece for Razzak and Rafique.

The Bangladeshis had the biggest opportunity of their life to crush India. All they had to do was keep their heads down and get their partnerships rolling. They lost Shahriar Nafees padding up to an incoming delivery from Zaheer but they had already put up 24 on the board after 4.2 overs. So India had trouble in keeping the runs down as they were getting battered by a mere 17-year-old, playing just is 5th ODI, a left handed batsman by the name Tamim Iqbal. Zaheer and Agarkar were getting hit out of the attack by this sensational teenager. At the other end, another teenager, Mushfiqur Rahim was batting sensibly in keeping one end firm. Runs were coming thick and fast as Tamim was going berserk, he smashed a half century within 10 overs of the innings! Munaf came to India’s rescue at this stage by forcing Tamim (51 from 53 with 7 fours and 2 sixes) to nick one behind followed with Aftab playing right across to him to be lbw.

Bangladesh were 79 for 3 after 16 overs and the fielding side struggled to get another breakthrough for a long time as Saqibul Hasan and Rahim paired up to bat steadily. Once their team was into the comfort zone, both the batsmen struck some telling blows which almost took BD to the victory. Sehwag picked up a couple of wickets with his off breaks but it was too late by then with Bangladesh in touching distance. Saqibul Hasan (53 from 86 with 5 fours) and Habibul Bashar were the two to be dismissed. Musfiqur Rahim was there till the end guiding his side with an unbeaten 57 (from 107 balls with 3 fours and 2 sixes). The Bangladeshis would be glad that this victory came without Nafees, Bashar and Ashraful making any major contributions! Although the target of 192 was reached only in the 49th over, the Tigers’ win was a comprehensive one with India simply outplayed in all the three departments.

It was a memorable win from Habibul Bashar’s team as it had come only a day after the sad demise of their colleague back home, Manzural Islam Rana (a 22-year-old who had played 6 Tests and 25 ODIs) who had died in a road accident. The Man of the Match was Mashrafe Mortaza, the man who got his side pumped up, there was a group dance by the players after every wicket fell!

The problem for India today was that they didn’t do any home work on the Bangladeshi bowlers and batsmen. Bangladesh of late has been playing only against Zimbabwe and the series wasn’t being beamed on Television and there was probably no attempt from the Indians to put their minds on what they would be against. Rahul Dravid and his team were shell shocked by the approach shown by these young Bangladeshis. This victory is good for the sport, the ICC must be happy with the way the minnows are growing. Minnows is perhaps not going to be used for the Bangladesh team. Now this victory shouldn’t be a one-day affair, the Tigers need to believe in themselves that they can beat anyone on any day and for that they have to get the consistency factor in their game day in and day out. The road for India is a tough one but they still have hopes of making it to the next round unlike their neighbours Pakistan.