Raina, Gambhir star in Indian victory over Bangladesh (lead)

June 29th, 2008 - 1:47 am ICT by IANS  

Karachi, June 28 (IANS) Suresh Raina raced to his second century in four days as India demolished a spirited Bangladesh to win their first Super-Four match by seven wickets at the National Stadium here Saturday. Bangladesh, riding high on Alok Kapali’s (115) maiden century, scored a challenging 283 runs - Bangladesh’s highest one-day international total against India.

Though in-form opening batsman Virender Sehwag was rested, India were never in a spot of bother and accomplished the target in the 43.2 overs.

Raina scored a defiant 116 not out while Gambhir struck 90 to see the team through. Bangladesh though will repent on the dropped chances they gave to both batsmen early in the innings well before their 139-run partnership could flourish.

Raina has been in top form in the tournament and scored his maiden century against Hong Kong before blasting 81 against Pakistan Thursday.

Electing to bat, Bangladesh got off to a sloppy start, losing opener Nazimuddin in the fourth over with only 19 runs on the board. Captain Mohammad Ashraful joined Tamim Iqbal to stabilize the innings and the two added 45 runs for the second wicket. But once Ashraful fell in the 12th over, Bangladesh were left meandering.

Their middle-order batsmen threw away their wickets with Raqibul Hasan (25) and then Mushfiqur Rahim (22) failing to capitalize on a good start.

But just when the Bangladeshi innings looked heading towards a predictable end, 24-year-old Kapali took charge and played a fighting knock.

He along with Mahmudullah (26) rescued Bangladesh with a 112-run stand for the sixth wicket. Kapali then cut loose in the slog overs feasting on Indian bowlers en route his maiden century that came in 86 balls and was studded with 10 fours and five sixes.

Indians too were lousy on the field with Gambhir dropping Kapali at long on and earlier slipping an easy catch off half-century maker opener Iqbal when he was on 11. India conceded 97 runs in the last 10 overs.

Debutant left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha (2-43) impressed with his tight bowling and also took a couple of good catches to dismiss Nazimuddin (6) and Ashraful (20).

India began their chase on a wrong note, losing Robin Uthappa, who was promoted up in the order in place of Sehwag, for just two runs in the fourth over. But Gambhir played fluently at the other end and along with Raina scripted India’s way to victory.

Raina hit 11 boundaries and three massive sixes while Gambhir’s innings contained 10 fours and one six.

Both batsmen benefited from the generosity of Bangladeshi fielders. Gambhir was dropped when he was on 56 by Farhad Reza at point boundary and two overs later Raina, on 16, was given a life by Mahmudullah at fine leg after he top-edged a pull shot.

Raina made them pay for their slips, hitting a six and a four in the same over of Mashrafe Mortaza.

Raina was in a Midas touch and along with Yuvraj Singh, who made a quick fire 36 not out, took India to a comfortable victory.

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