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The Bulletin by Anand Vasu in Dhaka
December 27, 2004
India 348 for 5 (Sehwag 70, Yuvraj 69, Dravid 60, Ganguly 55) beat Bangladesh 257 for 9 (Saleh 82) by 91 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Stung by a shock defeat last night, a full-strength Indian steam steamrolled Bangladesh in the decider at the Bangabandhu Stadium, winning by 91 runs. The match as a contest was finished by the half-way mark when India, powered by lusty hitting at both ends of their innings, from Virender Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh, racked up 348 for 5. There was simply no way Bangladesh were going to overhaul that target.
The determination was writ large on the faces of Sachin Tendulkar and Sehwag when they came out to open. Mashrafe Mortaza troubled both early on, beating the outside edge. But that was merely the calm before the storm. Even as they played themselves in, Sehwag and Tendulkar picked off the loose balls raised India's 50 in 9.1 overs. Then, Hasibul Hossain and Musfiqur Rahman - in the team in place of Tapash Baisya and Nazmul Hossain, both out with injury - got the pasting of their lives.
Tendulkar led the early charge, with two cover-drives. He then played the flick, the pull, the cut and the lofted shot over midwicket, peppering the advertising hoardings with foreceful strokes. Sehwag then showed that he was no less keen to get going, and lofted Hasibul for a majestic six over long-off. A flurry of strokes powered India to 100 off just 12.5 overs, with the second 50 coming in 22 balls.
Then, completely against the run of play, Tendulkar attempted to cut Khaled Mahmud, who had been brought into the attack after Hasibul was summarily dismissed with figures of none for 53 from 8 overs. Khaled Mashud took a good catch standing up and Tendulkar fell on 47 from just 42 balls (106 for 1).
Sehwag, refused to be perturbed by the loss of Tendulkar, and continued to play big shots even after the 15-over field restrictions were lifted, but perished in the process. He tried to thrash Mahmud for a big six over midwicket, but could not go all the way, and Mohammad Ashraful tip-toed around the ropes to to take a stunning catch (125 for 2). Sehwag, who was well on course to a century, fell in the 20th over, on 70 from just 52 balls.
Sourav Ganguly (55) and Rahul Dravid (60) then ensured that the barnstorming start they were given was not wasted. They dabbed, nudged, stroked and occasionally biffed their way to a 98-run partnership off 116 balls before both were out in the space of 3.1 overs. If Bangladesh thought the fall of these two wickets, Ganguly's with the score on 223, and Dravid's on 247, would give them respite, they hadn't reckoned with Yuvraj, who hadn't done anything noteworthy in the first two matches.
Yuvraj signalled his murderous intent early on, sweeping two boundaries before the bowlers could properly train their sights on him. Mohammad Rafique, who had done well with his left-arm spin to send down seven overs for just 23, was taken to the cleaners. Yuvraj played booming strokes somewhere between sweeps and drives in the arc from midwicket to square leg. Rafique's last 3 overs cost him 40, and before you knew it, Yuvraj had reached his half-century off a mere 22 balls. One ball less, and he would have drawn level with Ajit Agarkar's Indian record, 50 off 21 balls versus Zimbabwe at Rajkot four years ago. But Yuvraj was not finished; he blasted on till the very last over, and scored 69 from just 32 balls, with eight fours and three sixes, and in the company of a sensible and composed Kaif (29) took India to 348 for 5.
Bangladesh's response, barring a industrious 82 from Rajin Saleh, and a few rousing hits from Ashraful (32), and Mortaza (39 from 20 balls) at the death, was tame. Mahendra Dhoni, with five dismissals, did his cause in the Indian wicketkeeping race no harm at all. In the end 349 was simply too big a target for Bangladesh - a good 100 runs more than their previous best against India, 249 in the Asia Cup in 2000. They bettered it by eight runs thanks to some friendly bowling at the end of their innings, but it wasn't good enough for a capacity crowd who emptied out of the stadium, disappointed, but not completely deflated. Even a crushing defeat couldn't have erased from their minds the thrilling triumph achieved a day before.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo.
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