ADELAIDE: Breathless at the Oval! India nearly slipped on the proverbial banana peel before a fortuitous rain break worked in their favour on Wednesday night as they pulled off a 5-run win (by D/L method) over Bangladesh. As their bowlers pulled things back in dramatic fashion in a curtailed 16-over game, Bangladesh‘s old bugbear, pressure, undid opening batter Litton Das‘ extraordinary effort.
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It’s not easy to overshadow Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav all in one day, but that’s exactly what Litton (60 off 27 balls; 7×4, 3×6) nearly managed to pull off. When Bangladesh began their chase of 185, it was as if Litton knew exactly when the rain would come and exactly what he had to do.
The ferocity of his onslaught perhaps took the Indian pacers by surprise. By the time the rain came, seven overs had been bowled and Bangladesh were 66/0, a clear 17 above the D/L par score, with Litton on 59 off 26 balls. To put things in perspective, his opening partner Najmul Hossain Shanto had only managed 7 from 16 balls at the other end by then.
India began well enough, with Bhuvneshwar giving away only two off his first over and finding some swing straight away, but Arshdeep’s left-arm swing in the next over leaked runs. First ball, a touch wide, was carved past backward point for four. Arshdeep cut back on his length next ball but overpitched the third, and Litton smoked it straight down the ground past the bowler. There was more drama as behind the stumps, Dinesh Karthik failed to cleanly collect an edge behind the stumps.
Third over, Litton went after Bhuvi: he pulled one for six, swatted one for four past mid-off before expertly guiding one past slip and short third man for another four. Litton made his own space when India bowled back of a length, often charging down the ground to the likes of Shami.
Fifth ball of the third over, Litton survived again, as Karthik, diving to his right, arms outstretched, couldn’t pluck a difficult one. It seemed like this would be Bangladesh’s day.
Sixteen runs came off Shami’s sixth over, Litton whipping one square, then stepping out to pull for six, probably the shot of the day. One more boundary followed but the 52-minute rain break stalled Bangladesh’s momentum. Their target was revised to 151 off 16 overs, meaning they now needed 85 in 9 overs. With Litton around, everything seemed possible.
This was the moment the stars realigned India’s way. Ashwin restarted the proceedings and the outfield and pitch was still damp. Litton turned for a second run and slipped. Second ball, Shanto stepped out, playing to deep midwicket where KL Rahul, who had rediscovered his batting form earlier in the day, spied the Bangladesh batters turning for a second.
As luck would have it, Litton slipped again, recovered and carried on, but Rahul’s uncanny throw from deep midwicket hit the stumps. Imagine the odds!
Das was run out and Bangladesh panicked. They played one too many shots in the middle overs and India spied an opening. Hundreds of Indian fans who had queued up in the rain to exit the stadium came running back, and chants of “Vande Mataram” echoed across the Adelaide Oval. The Bangladesh fans went strangely quiet.
It eventually boiled down to 31 off the last 12 balls, with Taskin Ahmed and Nurul Hasan at the crease. Hardik Pandya ran in, Taskin connected. Four through extra cover. Two balls later, Taskin connected again. Six! Swung over deep mid-wicket. Pandya paused. Rohit Sharma walked up for a mid-pitch conference. 20 off 8 became 20 off 7 and eventually 20 off the last six by Arshdeep. It was just too much for Bangladesh.
Earlier, Virat Kohli continued his love affair with Adelaide, scoring 64 not out (44b; 8×4, 1×6) while KL Rahul made a welcome return to form with a 32-ball 50 (3×4, 4×6). Suryakumar’s 16-ball 30 too helped India up the tempo as they recovered from a slow start to post 184/6.
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Having escaped from jail here, India (6 points) are virtually through to the semifinals. Bangladesh, meanwhile, will rue the fact that they lost five wickets and scored only 40 runs in the 34 balls they faced after Litton was run out.