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The Bulletin by Sidharth Monga
June 6, 2009
It took Yuvraj Singh 18 balls to undo 10 overs' hard work by Bangladesh that had pulled India back after another solid start from Gautam Gambhir and Rohit Sharma. It took Pragyan Ojha five balls to undo their eight overs of keeping pace with a stiff total and eventually India became the first side in this tournament to successfully defend.
The crisp sound from Yuvraj's bat resonated regularly at Trent Bridge, with sixes flying here and there as India managed 59 runs in their last four overs. Ojha came on and removed Junaid Siddique and Shakib Al Hasan in his first over, after which a promising chase stumbled.
If the defining moments of this Group A match were easy to identify, it was hard to not recognise the hard work Bangladesh put in to stay in the match and force India to come up with something special. The match started with Gambhir and Rohit continuing to ensure that India didn't miss the injured Virender Sehwag.
Rohit batted like a seasoned Twenty20 opener and took charge after Gambhir had got off to a quick start with a square-cut boundary off the second ball of the match. The first ball he faced today, he leant into a good-length and creamed Mashrafe Mortaza through extra cover. Bangladesh were apprehensive about using their spinners in the Powerplays, and Rohit capitalised on the medium-pace coming on to his bat. He drove well off either foot, clipped off his pads, and played only one slog shot.
Although Gambhir slowed down, India reached 54 in the first six overs, with Rohit scoring 32 off 18. Mohammad Ashraful immediately introduced spin, and Rohit got out trying to dominate them.
MS Dhoni came out first drop, but at the same time Shakib slowed things down, giving the batsmen no pace to work with. Shakib was exceptional with his control, making sure India stayed in that consolidation mode for a considerable period.
Shakib's three-over spell went for 17 and included Rohit's wicket, and India managed only 44 - with one seix and one four - between the seventh and 13th over. Mortaza came back to bowl one more tight over, and the pressure resulted in Dhoni's wicket in the next over. With Shakib finishing off strongly, India had got only 62 runs in the middle 10 overs. Gambhir managed a laboured 50 off 46 balls.
But Yuvraj carried out an assault that broke Bangladeshi hearts - and resistance. Just like lightning he struck after seven quiet deliveries. He took an impressive Naeem Islam for back-to-back sixes, and one more two balls later. He welcomed Rubel Hossain back with a six and consecutive boundaries before being dismissed for 41 off 18.
Bangladesh then clawed their way back, keeping Suresh Raina and Yusuf Pathan quiet. Rubel had bowled a superb first half of the 20th over, giving away only two and cleaning up Raina. But in walked Irfan Pathan and smote a six and a four to post a challenging total.
That final assault wasn't enough to deflate Bangladesh's confidence. Tamim Iqbal and Siddique came out swinging, tasting some success against the left-arm opening bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Irfan Pathan. Both the bowlers bowled length, and that's where most Bangladeshi batsmen love it. Especially spectacular was Siddique's approach - he pulled the first ball he played for six.
In the first two overs Bangladesh got 20, and although Tamim fell to Yusuf in the third, Siddique didn't slow down. He hit Zaheer for back-to-back boundaries, and then Yusuf for a six before Ashraful got out in an unfortunate manner in the sixth over. He played a crunching cover-drive off Ishant Sharma, backing away, but found Gambhir at cover.
Out came Bangladesh's best player, Shakib, but it was Siddique who kept the pace up even as Shakib looked to rebuild. He set the agenda by stepping out and hitting Harbhajan Singh for a six in his first over. Once again, just when it seemed Bangladesh had done well to stay with India, the defending champions produced another game-breaker: Ojha, making his Twenty20 international debut.
Shakib looked to pull the first ball he bowled, but it skidded on, and took the top edge. Siddique chose an inopportune time to hit Ojha out of the ground, and holed out to wide long-on four balls later.
India could sense from there on that the chase had died, and so it turned with the inexperienced lower-middle order. Ojha took two more wickets and Yuvraj took two diving catches. Bangladesh managed only 81 runs from the time that Ojha came on to bowl, and India closed the game out professionally.