When India look back at their 25-run win over Bangladesh at Trent Bridge on Saturday, they should be relatively satisfied with their performance. The batting firepower proved too much for Bangladesh — in truth it would prove too much for most teams in the tournament — and the target of 181 was always going to be a tough ask.
The IPL experience has helped Indian cricketers in a lot of areas, but none more so that ground fielding and catching. Fielding was always India’s bugbear. No matter how big a score the batsmen raked up or the regularity with which the bowlers struck, India were always one dropped chance or a fumble away from letting the opposition back in the game. And while the real evolution of Indian fielding began with the advent of foreign coaches, the younger lot have made a marked improvement to their ground fielding through the IPL experience.
India were electric in the field against Bangladesh, Yuvraj Singh leading the way with two brilliant catches — one at short fine-leg and the other in the deep.
The first six overs of an innings are always the make-or-break period of a T20 match and with just two fielders in the deep, the men inside the ring have to be at their best to stem the flow of runs. With the trio of Yuvraj, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma patrolling the off, finding the gaps wasn’t easy for Bangladesh batsmen. However, while the batting and fielding seem to be sorted, the same cannot be said about India’s bowling.
The team management decided to spring a surprise in including Zaheer Khan in the XI, a move that did not quite come off. The left-armer went for 20 in his first two overs, and ended up with 1/26 off three. The other left-armer in the side, Irfan Pathan, too did not have an outing to remember. Ishant Sharma, who seems to have put his IPL misadventure behind him, was the best of the three seamers. The spinners in the side were on the mark. Pragyan Ojha hardly looked like a T20 international debutant, trying his variations and often tossing the ball up. It was his 4/21 that, in the end, broke the back of the Bangladesh batting to set up the win.
Yusuf Pathan is fast becoming, if he hasn’t already, an integral member of the Indian T20 outfit. The Baroda batsman can hit the ball higher and longer than most in the game, and his fast offbreaks first caught the fancy of Shane Warne, and now, Dhoni. He bowled the third over, conceding eight runs and taking a wicket. Harbhajan Singh was on the mark but without a wicket.