Sehwag sizzles in World Cup opener

Virender Sehwag reached his half-century off 45 balls Associated Press

Virender Sehwag launched India's World Cup campaign with a blistering assault on Bangladesh's bowlers, ensuring that the upset at Port of Spain in 2007 would not be repeated in this tournament. His 175 off 140 balls was his highest ODI score, and the best performance by an Indian against Bangladesh, and it led India to 370 for 4, a total that was always going to be beyond Bangladesh's reach.

With a withering back-foot drive, Sehwag slammed the first ball of the World Cup to the cover boundary, the opening move silencing a boisterous Mirpur crowd. He ended the first over, from Shafiul Islam, with another scorching drive that blazed to the cover-point boundary. India raced to 36 after four overs, forcing Shakib Al Hasan to turn to his premier spinner, Abdur Razzak, in the fifth. Razzak looped the ball into Sehwag from round the wicket, following the batsman and cramping him for room as he tried to hit inside out through the off side. Sehwag had scored 12 off his first six balls and 13 off his next 24.

Bangladesh were listless, though, as Sehwag regained his touch and never lost it again. He hoisted Razzak over wide long-on for the tournament's first six, a shot that also brought up his half-century off 45 balls. With Gautam Gambhir, Sehwag added 83 to build on the opening stand of 69. He then shifted gear and continued scoring at a run a ball by pushing the ball around while finding the occasional boundary. He got to his century off 94 balls, by nudging a single to midwicket.

As soon as India took the batting Powerplay in the 35th over, though, Sehwag cut loose again, driving Shafiul down the ground and lofting him for six over wide long-on. The carnage continued against Razzak, who Sehwag hit for 4,6, and 4 off consecutive balls in the 37th over. At one stage Sehwag, who had Gambhir running for him because of an injury, had a shot at a double-century. He fell in the 48th over, though, bottom-edging Shakib on to his stumps. Sehwag had almost kept his pledge to bat through the innings and equalled Kapil Dev's legendary 175 against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup.