Gambhir’s century slays Bangladesh

June 12th, 2008 - 11:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, June 12 (IANS) Gautam Gambhir cashed in on his fine form to score an emphatic century as India thumped a lacklustre Bangladesh by seven wickets and set up a title clash with Pakistan in the tri-nation one-day series here Thursday. Bangladesh, riding on a strokeful 89 from Raqibul Hasan, put up 222 runs after electing to bat.

Gambhir (107 not out) scored his fifth century while Virender Sehwag blasted a 32-ball 59 and Yuvraj Singh contributed 26 to take India home in 35.1 overs.

Bangladesh’s only way to pip Pakistan for the finals was to bowl out India inside 177 and make it to the title clash on the basis of run-rate.

India started the run-chase on a blistering note with Sehwag in imperious touch. He smashed seven boundaries and two sixes to blunt the Bangladeshi pacers. Sehwag and Gambhir brought up 85 for the opening stand in 10 overs that completely put the home team on the backfoot.

After Sehwag got out to Dolar Mahmud, Gambhir and Rohit Sharma (26) batted with ease and thwarted Bangladesh’s hopes of any comeback.

Gambhir, who has emerged as a key batsmen for India, once again gave ample evidence of his maturity as he batted with responsibility in seeing the team through till the end. Gambhir was severe on the bowlers when needed, and batted with caution when wickets fell at the other end.

Gambhir’s 101-ball knock included 13 boundaries and one six. The stylish left-hander displayed an array of strokes and danced down the track time and often to hit the spinners.

Yuvraj (26), who joined Gambhir after the fall of Sharma, chose to play the second fiddle to Gambhir and the duo had almost crossed the victory line when Yuvraj perished. Gambhir had Suresh Raina at the other end when India completed the chase.

Electing to bat Bangladesh received a jolt in the very first over when Tamim Iqbal gave his wicket to Praveen Kumar. Praveen swung the ball and troubled Tamim before forcing him to edge his fifth delivery behind the stumps.

Shahriar Nafees became R. P. Singh’s (3-46) first of the three victims as the left-arm pacer crashed through his defence in the 6th over and Bangladesh were tottering at 17 for 2.

Skipper Mohammad Ashraful and Raqibul Hasasn tried to stem the rot and put their heads together to stich a partnership. Ashraful took 67 balls for his 36 and the duo put on 76 runs that came in more than 18 overs.

Ashraful soon threw his wicket giving a catch back to Yusuf Pathan, who picked his maiden wicket.

It was left to Raqibul to take Bangladesh to a respectable score and he combined well with Alok Kapali (20) to cross the 200 mark, which looked improbable when the home team lost Ashraful at 106 for four.

Both he and Raqibul found the gaps and ran hard for the singles. Just when Bangladesh looked set for a late-over surge, Kapali was bowled by Irfan Pathan (2-48). The fifth-wicket partnership added 46 in just 8.4 overs.

Raqibul brought up his fifty off 78 balls, and then cut loose for quick runs. Singh removed Kapali to put breaks on Bangladesh scoring rate. Mahmudullah contributed 24 but Bangladesh lost their last four wickets for 26 runs.

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