With Bangladesh struggling for form, it was little surprise to see just about 15,000 turn up at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium for the India-Bangladesh match on Thursday.
But those present cheered loudly for Virender Sehwag's fireworks as he laid a solid base from where a target of 223 looked smaller than it was. By the time Sehwag's Delhi mate Gautam Gambhir reached his fifth ODI century — 107 not out off 101 balls (13x4, 1x6), half the crowd had left, knowing fully well that Sehwag had settled the issue beyond any doubt.
Tuesday against Pakistan was revisited as Sehwag (59, 32b, 7x4, 2x6) and Gambhir gave India a rousing start. After bowling the hosts out for 222, India thrashed Bangladesh by seven wickets with 14.5 overs to spare.
Sehwag was severe as only he can be, reducing the medium-pacers to dust. He welcomed rookie medium-pacer Dollar Mahmud by picking him up for 22 runs in his first five deliveries, before throwing away his wicket.
Earlier, accurate bowling by Praveen Kumar at the start stopped Bangladesh from scoring freely. While Praveen checked the runs, his partner RP Singh was a little erratic.
Young right-hander Raqibul Hasan was responsible for Bangladesh posting 200-plus with a career best 89 (117b, 5x4) after both openers fell inside six overs. Hasan took the opportunity to post a morale-boosting half-century, his second in his ninth match. He measured up equally to the young India bowlers and looked in no hurry. The youngster built a fine partnership with captain Ashraful, adding 76 from 118 balls for the third wicket.
Praveen, fresh from his four-wicket haul against Pakistan, picked up a wicket in the very first over the match, removing Tamim Iqbal for a duck. Getting Praveen away proved to be virtually impossible, and it was only some wayward bowling from RP at the other end, that kept the scoreboard ticking.
Bangladesh were looking in trouble at 17/2, and the third-wicket pair of skipper Mohammad Ashraful and Hasan aimed to occupy the crease and play themselves in.
Just when the two were settling in nicely, Ashraful drove back to Yusuf Pathan to become his first international victim. Hasan shared another important partnership of 46 in 52 balls with Alok Kapali.