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Slam, Bang, Thanks

Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli gave India the perfect start they were looking to make in their World Cup campaign.

cricket Updated: Feb 20, 2011 00:32 IST
Nilankur Das

Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli gave India the perfect start they were looking to make in their World Cup campaign. As the balls began disappearing to all corners of the park, the monotonous humming noise of the vuvuzelas, like in soccer matches in South Africa last year, around the packed Sher-e Bangla National Stadium gradually died.

Sehwag has done it against the best of attacks, i.e. silenced louder crowds. But beginning with a 175 — that equalled Kapil Dev's second highest World Cup knock by an India batsman — is an ominous sign for the other teams in the tournament.

The only point of concern was the back spasm he suffered during his innings which forced him to call in Gautam Gambhir as runner when he was on 130. He did not come out to field. However, India have a week left before their next game against England in Bangalore.

The hosts began the chase well but they needed someone to stay on. Sreesanth replaced Ashish Nehra, who has sore back, in the 11 and opened the bowling. But he came in for some harsh treatment.

However, Munaf Patel was the pick of India bowlers as he maintained a tight line and produced subtle variations in pace. Zaheer Khan, who has streaked his hair in gold and mahogany, bowled within himself having returned from a hamstring strain. He did not force the batsmen to look uncomfortable but gave little away. And as the asking rate mounted to close to 30 an over, the passionate home fans started to leave.

Kohli made his World Cup debut memorable. Having performed almost every time he has been given a chance, the Delhi boy stood up and delivered again and showed great temperament. He and Sehwag made batting look easy on a wicket that was getting slower and lower.

Kohli came in after Sachin Tendulkar, who equalled Javed Miandad's record of playing in six World Cups and crossed Sanath Jayasuriya's record of the most ODI caps, was run out. Gambhir too missed out on a high scoring opportunity.

An early short one from Rubel Hossain made Kohli a touch uncomfortable, but a firm push past the bowler for his first boundary got him going. And he entertained with many more conventional shots. Sehwag eventually fell attempting a tired shot, but by then India had almost secured the game.

After all the hype and expectation that had built around the Bangladesh team, skipper Shakib-Al Hasan's decision to field first virtually handed over whatever psychological advantage the hosts could have gained from the stands.

Fielding first could have been an option only if dew was sure to play a part later in the evening. But more than anyone else, Shakib should have known the conditions. And dew had not been a factor in the last few days.

Making use of the best available conditions for batting, Sehwag hit the first ball, off Shafiul Islam, to the cover fence.
The young paceman could not get his rhythm again. Sehwag showed some respect to Abdur Razzak for the first few

The left-arm spinner was called into service in the fifth over itself. But once Sehwag got used to the pace of the wicket, the ball was flying. India will hope this turns into Sehwag's tournament, as with him firing on all cylinders, Indian victory chances exponentially goes up.