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Rusty India crawl to victory in opener

cricket Updated: Jun 17, 2010 01:26 IST
Bivabasu Kumar
Bivabasu Kumar
Hindustan Times
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India almost made heavy weather of a paltry run chase against Bangladesh, perhaps indicating they are yet to shrug off the inertia after being away from the 50-over format for a while.

Despite folding up Bangladesh for 167, India suffered batting jitters on their way to a six-wicket victory in their first Asia Cup match in Dambulla.

The clouds on Wednesday had cast a gloomy spell around the Rangiri Dambulla Stadium and the empty stands belied the importance of a tournament that dates back to 1984.

It wasn’t the greatest advertisement for the Asia Cup, but that will be the trend, it seems, in the tenth edition of the tournament.

Certainly, it was an aberration from the frenzy around cricket in the subcontinent, but the on-field action was as insipid as the dull stands on Wednesday.

Bangladesh once again showed their propensity to collapse under pressure after skipper Shakib Al Hasan called right at the toss and decided to bat first.

The Indian seamers lacked the bite initially, but came back strongly in the middle overs. Praveen Kumar and Zaheer Khan began the proceedings, but Bangladesh openers Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal showed early flourish.

Kayes was especially harsh on Zaheer, carting the Indian seamer for three boundaries in his first over.

Twenty-five runs in first two overs got everyone to sit up and take notice of the Bangladesh batting, but that seemed to be the beginning and end of the Bangla belligerence.

The Indian bowlers had a field day and everyone picked up wickets, though not as much for their cutthroat bowling as for terrible batting gaffes.

Tamim’s wicket was a relief for Praveen Kumar, coming back from a side strain, and Virender Sehwag notched up his career-best bowling figures (4 for 6 in 2.5 overs) in one-dayers.

The Indian opener, however, failed to bat with his usual gusto. After a brisk start with a couple of boundaries, Sehwag’s wafting willow sent a nick to the keeper off Mushfiqur Rahim.

Gautam Gambhir (82) exuded control and panache but not without a let off on 48.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38 not out) also showed composure and added 78 runs for the fourth wicket with Gambhir.

India will have to lift their performance against Pakistan on Saturday and Dhoni will agree a lot is desired from their bowlers who leaked 21 extras against Bangladesh.