Dhaka: India tonight became the first team to qualify for the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 after routing hosts Bangladesh by eight wickets in a thoroughly one-sided Group II match, here.
India restricted Bangladesh to 138 for seven, courtesy yet another dominating performance by their spinners and then the batsmen made short work of the target by crossing the line with nine balls to spare. Leggie Amit Mishra (3/26) and off-spinner R Ashwin (2/15) shared five wickets between them to set up the win.
Indian players celebrate a wicket. Pic/ AFP
This is third successive victory in the competition for India and they are well on top of Group 2 with six points and a match to go against Australia, who are more or less out of semifinal race. India's last-four berth is also their first since the inaugural edition in South Africa back in 2007. Save Shikhar Dhawan (1)'s early departure, there weren t any hiccup as Rohit Sharma (56) and Virat Kohli (57) batted with consummate ease and the Men In Blue reached the target without breaking much sweat.
Both Sharma and Kohli scored their second successive half-centuries. The duo added 100 runs for the second wicket partnership to pave the way for another professional show by the team. Rohit faced 44 balls in his knock hitting five fours and a six. Virat took 50 deliveries for his knock and helped himself with three fours and a six in the process.
Such has been the duo's domination in the tournament that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had to promote himself up to get an opportunity to bat as he desperately needed some batting practice in a match situation. Dhoni (22 off 12) finished it off in style by hitting a straight six off Ziaur Rahman. The two shots in the Indian innings which stood out were the sixes hit by Rohit and Kohli respectively. First was a bouncer by the skiddy Al-Amin Hossain which Rohit hooked deep into the lower tier of the Shere Bangla Stadium. The second was an effortless loft over extra cover by Kohli off the same pacer.
The two hits showed the gulf in standards between the two teams. It was not easy to bowl under lights as the home team bowlers found out. It seemed that Bangladesh had lost the zeal to compete after their mauling at the hands of West Indies. There were a couple of difficult skiers offered by Rohit but Sohag Gazi and Anamul Haque made a mess of those. Their bowlers and fielders were happy to go through the motion as the match did not have any element of excitement like the afternoon humdinger between West Indies and Australia.
Earlier, Indian spinners yet again put up an impressive show. Ashwin was yet again at his parsimonious best with exceptional figures of two for 15 in four overs. Amit Mishra s dream run in the marquee event continued as he was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 26 in four overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled tidily to gave away only 21 in his three overs and dismissed their top player Shakib Al Hasan in the process.
For Bangladesh, all-rounder Mahmudullah finally came good as he blasted unbeaten 33 off 23 balls with five fours and a six to give his team s total a decent look. Mahmudullah added 49 runs for the sixth wicket with Nasir Hossain (16) as they are the third team in the tournament that India have restricted for less than 140. Opener Anamul Haque (44) played well at the top while skipper Mushfiqur Rahim (24) failed to convert the start that he got. Tamim Iqbal s (4) tournament got from bad to worse as he was out in a soft manner, pushing at a flighted delivery from Ashwin that turned after pitching.
Suresh Raina took the catch at the first slip. Shamsur Rahman (0) was out off the very next ball with an atrocious cross-batted heave. He found out the only man outside the circle on the leg-side. Rohit Sharma had little difficulty in taking the catch running forward from his deep mid-wicket position. Ashwin was on a hat-trick but Shakib stopped the Tamil Nadu tweaker from reaching the milestone. Shakib (1) however did not last long as he was played on off Bhuvneshwar Kumar s delivery with Bangladesh were reeling at 21 for three within the first five overs. Anamul along with skipper Mushfiqur Rahim started a repair job.
Rahim hit Jadeja for a couple of boundaries including a slog-swept boundary that brought the team s 50 up in the ninth over. Rahim (24) however played a loose shot and was caught by a diving Virat Kohli at mid-on position. Anamul-Rahim partnership yielded 46 runs for the fourth wicket. Anamul hit some eye-catching boundaries off spinners. His favourite area of attack was the cover and extra cover region. A couple of boundaries off Shami and Bhuvneshwar were delightful strokes. He also hit Shami over long-off for a six and got a maximum, hitting Jadeja inside-out over extra-cover.
But on 44, Amit Mishra bowled back-to-back googlies which he failed to read. The first one went for four byes but the second one was good enough to light on the LED stumps. He faced 43 balls with five fours and two sixes. Half of the team was back in the dug-out by the end of the 13th over with only 82 on board.