ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Bangladesh v India, World Cup 2011, Mirpur

Normal service restored, somewhat

This was a mighty batting performance by the mightiest batting line-up in the tournament but India have a few crinkles to iron out

Sambit Bal at the Shere Bangla Stadium

February 19, 2011

Comments: 73 | Text size: A | A

Virender Sehwag is congratulated by Virat Kohli after getting to a century off 94 balls, Bangladesh v India, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mirpur, February 19, 2011
A large total was mounted by India's batsmen; so large, in fact, that it didn't stretch their bowlers at all © AFP

The crowd and the stage was befitting of a World Cup opener - and, when the home batsmen sparkled briefly at the beginning of the chase, the atmosphere too - but gradually the inevitable outcome of a gigantic chase homed in, batsmen abandoned the chase and the crowd resigned themselves to cheering the occasional boundary. The streets outside the ground weren't as charged as the night before but the partying continued in Dhaka. It isn't merely about the home team here: the World Cup is the real thing.

For the Indians, it went to script. A large total was mounted; so large, in fact, that it didn't stretch their bowlers at all. But the most interesting part of the plot was the unveiling of a new Virender Sehwag, restrained, patient, canny, and hungry. There were glimpses of this during the warm-up games, and he made good his pre-tournament promise to bat long. This was the longest he has ever batted in a one-day match, and inevitably it yielded his highest score. The 200 came tantalisingly close but Sehwag never looked over-anxious to get there. Was it because he didn't think it appropriate to take Sachin Tendulkar's record after having run him out?

Overall, it was a mighty batting performance by the mightiest batting line-up in this World Cup. The Bangladesh bowling was unthreatening but by no means was the pitch a belter. It was a typical Bangladesh pitch, low and slow. So slow that the real threat to the batsmen came from the risk of indecision. Bangladesh turned to spin after four overs, and the ball took so long to arrive that Virender Sehwag could have sung a song before playing it. Runs had to be manoeuvred, not bludgeoned. The Indians did it expertly, skillfully.

The wagon wheels tell the story (check out our brilliant new one). India picked up 152 of their 370 runs in front of the wicket on the onside. The arc between the bowler and mid-on is among the most difficult scoring areas but, on a pitch where the batsmen were forced to generate their own pace, Indian batsmen drove off the back-foot consummately. Sehwag, of course, hit a few straight down the ground with a flat bat.

Uncertain of his place in the XI before the World Cup began, Virat Kohli has cemented his place at the number four with an exquisite hundred on debut. By all accounts he is India's most improved batsman in recent years. Sehwag joined the chorus of teammates to speak about his maturity. Recalling that he had thrown away his wicket in the Champions Trophy match against Pakistan in South Africa, Sehwag pointed out that Kohli has scored six hundreds in the ODIs since then. His batting today was perfectly tempered, full of grace and timing and of cover-driving reminiscent of Rahul Dravid.

S Sreesanth unsuccessfully appeals for an LBW, Bangladesh v India, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mirpur, February 19, 2011
Sreesanth had only the theatrics going for him in a wayward performance © AFP

Bangladesh's decision to bowl was not inexplicable, and Shakib Al Hasan defended it stoutly but did betray diffidence. Two factors would have weighed on Shakib. The dew that tends to set in in the final stages of the match is potentially crippling for his spin-based bowling attack. And historically, most of their wins against top nations, including their two World Cup upsets, have come bowling first. In fact, that's how unfancied team usually sneak a win: they capitalise on opposition batsmen either underestimating their bowlers or just batting badly.

Bangladesh have a fair chance of making it to the quarter-finals in this World Cup. But to get there, they would need to believe that they are genuine contenders. They have a largely defensive bowling attack, and they must trust it to defend in these conditions. A team choosing to bowl first expects wickets off its bowlers, and there wasn't a sniff of a wicket-taking ball throughout the Indian innings today. The most sustained cheer from the crowd came when Virat Kohli under-edged a pull to his thigh and winced in pain. As if to keep the spirits going, they replayed the ball four times in quick succession on the giant screen, and the cheers grew louder. But for the most part, the crowd was left to feel the pain inflicted by Indian batsmen.

Abdur Razzak bowled a couple of good overs at the start and Shakib has developed a fast offside yorker that works at the death but Bangladesh had no option but to wheel away once the Indians got going. Rubel Hossain alone produced some spunk with clever use of the bouncer that Sehwag, and later Kohli, found difficult to put away. He went for only six an over despite bowling in all the Powerplays and at the death.

India can be relieved to have done the business expected of them but the bowling will remain a worry. They chose Sreesanth ahead of Ashish Nehra, who had been wayward, and Sreesanth delivered two spells full of sins: too full, too short, too wide, too far down the leg, and predictably a no-ball. Since playing four specialist bowlers is fundamental to their strategy, and they have nowhere else to look for a fast-bowling option, they might soon need to consider two specialist spinners.

On a turning pitch in Bangalore against England, that may not be the worst option.

Sambit Bal is the editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 73 
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Posted by am on (February 22, 2011, 22:21 GMT)

Sreesanth has himself to blame for everything happening with him. It is purely his own behaviour which has got himself as well as other team mates into trouble. He can be great bowler.. he is very talented and passionate..but he should concentrate only on his bowling and should contribute to the team positively. Sehwag didnt comment anything badly. He just said everyone had a good game except sreesanth. And it is indeed true, so there is no point in blaming sehwag or any other team mate for what sreesanth is facing. All team mates have supported him in good and bad times but if he doesnt listen and doesnt change his behaviour then of course team mates will think he is a big head ache.. it is natural and can happen with any mercurial type of person. So it is not right to blame anyone for sreesanth.. And team india Good luck.. do well in your next game . Congrats for thrashing BD in their own backyard.. it was awesome revenge

Posted by vathsalya on (February 22, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

@All: Guys!!! Could the few who who spit venom against Sreesanth stop it pls. Where were all your comments during our warmup game when he bowled superbly against australia? Nehra was absolutely listless in both the warm up games. This guy bowled his heart out but was unlucky as most of the runs came thru edges and legbyes/wides. Sewhag shouldnt say anything about Sreesanth bad in public as it affects the morale of the team and the person, thou he was right. I can also say Sewhag just for the sake of his comment before the match (revenge) wanted to play a selfish game and got Sachin run out. So lets not simply accuse anyone. The key is MSD has said after during the post match conference that the bowling was good and thats it... If we had given Bangla 283, so be it... Its not a mandate to bowl out any opponent under 200 when u get 370. We are not aussies of the last decade who have the passion, grit and arrogance and catch the game by the scruff of the neck.

Posted by Muthuvel on (February 21, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

Sree bowled a few bad balls, kayees played a few very good shots of him, but sree also bowled a few very good balls and was unlucky to not get a wicket. And dont go by what sehwag is saying about sree , sehwag knows no other way to speak, always direct. But dhoni knows that sree is better than Nehra.

Posted by Ranjith R on (February 21, 2011, 8:06 GMT)

Yaar, Just Imagine the circumstance when sree is in WC.. he was a replacement for PK.. now its upto him that the team doesnt think that Sree was a wrong choice against PK... Now thats lot of pressure, and this is his first real World cup match, and its open secret that he is not fav team mate to others to add to that extra pressure... so he was trying too much... so got blasted all over the ground...

lets give him some time, may be we will see a better sree if given another chance next match against england.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 21, 2011, 5:55 GMT)

Sreesanth is not for Sub continent wickets, we miss praveen kumar, in q/f we may play pakistan on same ground as 1 st match ,we shall play zaheer/nehra/ashwin/harbhjan/yusuf/yuvraj/5 who select auto,or we may play newzland in colombo,where raina instead of yusuf and chawla instead of nehra with aswin open the bowling with zaheer,

Posted by Tahir on (February 21, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

I agree that these teams at the bottom of order have become capable a bit. BD batsmen exposed Indian bowling worries while Canada got quick wickets against Sri Lanka while Pakistan were also tested by BD during warm up match when Pakistan lost top order in hurry. Therefore, these matches are helping the cause of various teams who should spot their weaknesses.

Posted by Venkat on (February 20, 2011, 20:44 GMT)

guys, lets give Sree a break here. every bowler has good and bad days. Only a few weeks ago we were going gaga over Sree for the snotter that got kallis in the test match and now we are gunning for him. Sree is not a run stopper but a wicket taking option. Even yesterday he got good swing but lost control. Give him confidence and he will do well.

Posted by sakibaki on (February 20, 2011, 20:09 GMT)

As an Indian here are my random thoughts...

28 yrs ago a minnow entered would cup as meat for the biggies. It went on to win the CUP and carved a new destiny not only for itself but for the CRICKET. It made cricket more exciting and second most watched team sport in the world. It made cricketers richer. So lets not shame minnows or put down their fans. GO BANGLADESH!

I saw the 2007 IND BANGLADESH match - its etched in my memory. We did not lose that match; Bangladesh won it fair and square - their bowling performance was outstanding. Bangladesh crowds have earned right to be proud of their team based on that performance alone. So guys, give it a rest.


Posted by Nav on (February 20, 2011, 15:28 GMT)

Some people are still saying that whatever Sehwag said is his nature, and Sreesanth is not a good bowler. Please answer my questions then:

1. Just tell me an instance when Sehwag said something bad about any of his own teammates 2. If Sreesanth is not a good bowler in subcontinent pitches, then tell me which Indian bowler is very good in these pitches?

Sreesanth just had a bad day. We have seen several other Indian bowler who were worse than this before. I still did not forget Saheer's performance in 2003 world cup final. You people will understand this in coming matches where you will see that none of pacers performs well. In the warm matches, Sreesanth was better than others. Some people still talks about Sreesanth's onfield behavior. Those people are still pointing out his old behavior. He is now a real agressive bowler which is very much needed in these kind of competitive games.

Posted by Paramjit on (February 20, 2011, 15:15 GMT)

I do not see anything wrong with Sehwag's comment about Sreesanth. He said " Every one did well except Sreesanth. But any bowler can have a bad day." So please get your facts before commenting.

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Sambit Bal Editor-in-chief Sambit Bal took to journalism at the age of 19 after realising that he wasn't fit for anything else, and to cricket journalism 14 years later when it dawned on him that it provided the perfect excuse to watch cricket in the office. Among other things he has bowled legspin, occasionally landing the ball in front of the batsman; laid out the comics page of a newspaper; covered crime, urban development and politics; and edited Gentleman, a monthly features magazine. He joined Wisden in 2001 and edited Wisden Asia Cricket and Cricinfo Magazine. He still spends his spare time watching cricket.

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