India seal with a hiss
If India have to make a movie on Saturday’s second One-day International against Bangladesh, we have a title ready — Kabhi Khushi, Kabhie Gambhir. No gham.
Gautam Gambhir, the Delhi left-hander and opener, scored a disciplined 101 on Saturday, powering India to an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the Grameenphone One-day International series. Gambhir's century, his second in ODIs, redeemed him after Thursday's slipshod performance. He thus succeeded where the more celebrated Virender Sehwag failed. Sehwag, the other opener, was unable to deliver once again, losing his patience and holing out when on 21.
Saturday morning started dark and stormy. Gusts of wind sent dust flying everywhere. The sky was grey. Sure enough, it rained. But it quickly cleared up. As if the weather god had simply turned over a page of his calendar. The damage was restricted to a half hour's delay and the reduction of an over each from the quota of 50. India won the toss and batted, avoiding the ordeal of fielding 49 overs in the heat and then having to bat. The 101 from Gambhir's blade and cameos from Rahul Dravid (42 not out) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36) helped them produce a bony 284 for eight.
Bangladesh were positive in their reply, as demonstrated by Mashrafe Mortaza's blazing, 22-ball 42 (it consisted of five sixes, four of them consecutive against Dinesh Mongia). But while their strokes and body language were fearless, their batsmen, bar Aftab Ahmed, captain Habibul Bashar and Mortaza, didn't stay at the wicket long enough. India won by 46 runs. The margin would have been greater if not for India slackening towards the end.
Gambhir started with flair. Bangladesh were straining at the leash to have a go at India since their chief weapon —Mortaza — had recovered from the back injury that kept him out of the first match. The 23-year-old was reasonably quick, bowling in the region of 138 kmh, about 15kmph faster than the other new-ball bowler, Syed Rasel. Mortaza extracted significant carry from even the benign wicket at the Sher-E-Bangla stadium. His line, though, wavered. Right in the first over, Gambhir put him away off his feet for four.
Gambhir did not allow the strokeful start to corrupt his resolve though. Keeping his head down, breaking the curfew only when it was safe to, he kept going. Physically it wasn't easy to bat and run between wickets for 163 minutes in the heat and humidity of Dhaka. Indeed, Gambhir took a runner when on 87 (Sehwag). But he made sure he reached his destination. True, he was dropped once. But he had already got 95 by then. He could afford the danger, like a wealthy man a little risky investment.
There was a small stretch in the second innings when the Bangladesh batsmen worried India. Late during the first powerplay, Aftab Ahmed went after Zaheer Khan. In the 9 th over, he stepped down the track to belt a straight drive. In the same over, he smote an uppish cover drive that knocked Dravid down at short cover. To the Indian captain's credit, he attempted the catch. In Zaheer's next over, Aftab stole two more boundaries, one the improvised scoop to fine leg that Bangladeshi cricketers play so often and another a slice square off the wicket.
On the bowling side of things, it was a day of spinners. Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, brought in to suit the wicket and give S Sreesanth time to rest a sore calf, took 3/37 from ten overs, clean bowling Mohammad Ashraful with a googly. For Bangladesh left-arm spinners Mohammad Rafique took 3/59 while Abdur Razzak claimed two. The vaudeville now moves to Chittagong, which will host the third but redundant ODI on Tuesday. After that it will stage the first Test from Friday.