An unbeaten Rohit Sharma century sent India cruising into the Champions Trophy final, after thrashing Bangladesh by nine wickets at Edgbaston.
Not even the unpredictable, giant-killing Pakistan can stop India from here, surely? It was another destructive display from Virat Kohli’s charges, who made full use of the conditions in Birmingham to go one match away from defending their title.
Bangladesh put up more of a fight than the Proteas did at the Oval a few days ago to get to 264-7. However, not for the first time in this tournament, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan created all of the damage at the top of the order. Kohli then saw his side over the line to become the fastest to 8 000 ODI runs in history, with his 175 innings being seven quicker than AB de Villiers’.
The legendary India vs Pakistan rivalry will be revisited at the Oval on Sunday, and if the atmosphere in their group-stage opener in Birmingham was anything to go by, there’s going to be fireworks.
The Bengal Tigers, reaching the semi-finals for the first time in a major tournament, will be content with their progress in this tournament, but their display with the ball in front of the record Edgbaston crowd was disappointing.
Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) set their side up for a big total with their 123-run stand, but the last eight wickets fell for 110 runs, in what followed a similar pattern to the Proteas’ collapse against India when they were bowled out for 216.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar did the work up front with 2-53, but the most unlikeliest of sources produced the two key wickets of Iqbal and Rahim, with part-time off-spinner Kedar Jadhav taking 2-22 from his six overs. He’s there for his batting, but he simply has not been needed in this tournament, facing just 13 balls throughout. India have only lost 12 wickets at an average of three per game. To put it in perspective, MS Dhoni has only needed to bat once.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza put in a useful knock, coming in at No 8 to score 30 off 25 balls. Forty runs were scored off the last five overs to drag them over the 260-run mark, but Jasprit Bumrah (2-39) did a fine job of preventing it from being a bigger total.
Dhawan and Sharma are going to finish this tournament as the top-two run-scorers, after another colossal stand between the pair. Dhawan, who tops the charts with 317 runs from his four innings, put on 87 with Sharma inside the first 15 overs. Bangladesh’s bowlers didn’t help the cause though, bowling too short on a slow deck which allowed Dhawan to tuck in.
Dhawan fell for 46 off 34, but Kohli, an expert at chasing down totals as he displayed in that eight-wicket win against South Africa, held firm once more. Mortaza used no less than eight bowlers to try and defy Sharma and Kohli, but Sharma struck his 11th career ODI ton, off 111 balls, with victory in sight.
Once the hard work was done, the pair tucked into the bowlers, with Kohli (96 off 78) hitting no less than 13 fours, of which one of those added the winning runs to chase down the target with 10 overs to spare. Sharma finished unbeaten on 123, to book his side’s spot in yet another major-tournament final.
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