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India rediscover winning ways

It didn’t take India long to rediscover their mojo. A combined bowling effort followed by a steady half-century from the in-form Shikhar Dhawan helped them crush Bangladesh by six wickets in the second match of the tri-nation Twenty20 Nidahas Trophy at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on Thursday (March 8).

Having been at the receiving end in their last encounter against Sri Lanka on Tuesday, the Indian bowlers bowled with good discipline to restrict Bangladesh to 139 for 8 in 20 overs. India then rode on Dhawan’s 43-ball 55 to chase down the target with eight deliveries to spare, finishing on 140 for 4 in 18.4 overs.

Chasing a below-par total on a batsman-friendly pitch, Dhawan, who scored a stroke-filled 90 in the last match, picked up right from where he left off. Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma crafted a couple of voguish boundaries before being knocked over by Mustafizur Rahman, the Indian captain registering his second failure of the tournament.

Promoted to No. 3, Rishabh Pant failed to make the most of his chance, dragging one from Rubel Hossain (2 for 24) onto his stumps.

With a couple of wickets going down in quick succession, India once again needed Dhawan to offer solidity, and the Delhi opener didn’t disappoint. He pounced on every loose opportunity and dismantled Bangladesh’s ploy of bowling short to him with relative ease.

Dhawan found an able ally in Suresh Raina (27-ball 28) as the duo mixed caution with aggression to form a 68-run association for the third wicket. The partnership was finally ended by Rubel in the 15th over when he got rid of Raina, but by then, India were already on the verge of victory.

In the process, Dhawan went on to complete his sixth T20I fifty before falling to Taskin Ahmed with India needing just 17 runs. The formalities were completed by Manish Pandey (26*) and Dinesh Karthik as India managed to keep their unbeaten T20I streak against Bangladesh intact.

Earlier, Soumya Sarkar arrived at the crease with a do-or-die game plan after Bangladesh were invited to bat first. His stay could have been cut short in the very first over had any of three fielders at third-man, backward point or cover-point called for a catch that eventually fell in no-man’s land. Sarkar added insult to injury by dispatching Jaydev Unadkat (3 for 38) over the square-leg fence for a stylish six, but the left-arm seamer got his revenge two balls later after Sarkar flicked one straight to the short fine-leg fielder.

Before the dust had settled, Tamim Iqbal, despite having collected consecutive boundaries in the fourth over, paid for his overambitious approach and was dismissed for 15 off a back-of-a-length delivery from Shardul Thakur.

Liton Das, batting at No. 3 in the absence of Shakib Al Hasan, was then joined by Mushfiqur Rahim, and the two rode their luck to stitch a 31-run stand for the third wicket. Having learnt from his mistake from the last game when India lost to Sri Lanka by five wickets, Rohit made frequent bowling changes and didn’t allow any Bangladesh batsmen to get used to any bowler.

Despite a couple of easy chances going down in his first over, Vijay Shankar continued to bowl heavy balls and ended up scalping Rahim with some help from Karthik, his Tamil Nadu teammate. Though an appeal for caught behind was turned down by the on-field umpire, Karthik knew it was out from the word go and asked for the review straightaway, getting it right.

Mahmudullah, the captain, was tied down by Yuzvendra Chahal and succumbed to pressure by holing out off Vijay, who finished with 2 for 32.

Meanwhile, Das went on to score a 30-ball 34 but could never break loose with wickets tumbling at the other end. The pressure finally got the better of him as he looked to go after Chahal but ended up ballooning a simple catch to Raina at mid-off.

Bangladesh’s lower order had no answers to India’s discipline as they could only manage 32 runs in the last five overs. Things could have been worse had Sabbir Rahman not made a sedate 26-ball 30. Rahman smacked three fours and a six during his stay to take his side to a modest total that hardly bothered India.

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