The last time Bangladesh beat India in the Asia Cup was over 11 years ago – on home soil in Mirpur.
Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina had scored fifties in that match for the reigning World Champions, but it was an Indian opener’s century that guided India to a tidy total of 289/5.
With a score of 114 off 147 balls, Sachin Tendulkar’s record 100th international century went in vain as player of the match Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim chased down the target with four balls to spare and spurred Bangladesh to a fine victory.
On Friday, another Indian opener’s century went in vain with Shakib once again guiding his team to victory.
At the 2023 Asia Cup Super Fours match in Colombo, Shubman Gill was in fine form throughout India’s innings – timing boundaries well and running singles with ease. Aside from one moment where he momentarily lost his balance, the 23-year-old seemed to be well on his way to carry his bat – remain unbeaten.
It certainly looked that way when Gill reached his fifth One-Day International century in 117 balls. A trademark bow as his celebration and the opener was ready to fire after crossing a mark that has eluded him for the last six months.
Gill had to turn on the attack with the target being 63 from 40 balls. The tall opener stepped forward, knee half-bent and smacked a six over deep midwicket off Mahedi Hasan. The hit measured at 92m, the biggest of the night and it looked like Gill was gearing up for a big over.
Mahedi was unphased and followed up with a change in line to induce Gill into hitting it straight down for Towhid Hridoy to take a well-judged catch at long-off. India were seven wickets down, but more importantly, fully into the tailend of their line-up.
In the end, veteran fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman and debutant Tanzim Hasan Sakib wrapped things up to bowl India out for 259 and earn their first and only win in the Super Four stage at the 2023 Asia Cup.
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Squad depth tested
India had already qualified for the final courtesy of a gritty win over Sri Lanka on Tuesday. Therefore the dead rubber against Bangladesh was an opportunity to test the depth of the squad ahead of the ICC Men’s World Cup being hosted at home.
With that logic in mind, India skipper Rohit Sharma made five changes to the team – resting Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav. An ODI debut was handed to Tilak Varma while Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Shami came in to replace Bumrah and Siraj. Prasidh Krishna and Suryakumar Yadav were the other changes.
Choosing to bowl first, Thakur and Shami were solid in the first 15 overs of the match – bowling tidy overs and dismissing the Bangladesh top order. Axar Patel, the lone frontline spinner, took the wicket of Mehidy Hasan Miraz in the 14th over to reduce Bangladesh to 59/4.
But Shakib was undeterred and scored a sublime 80 off 85 balls, getting to his half-century with a cracking six off Patel in the 26th over. Putting on a century partnership with Hridoy for the fifth wicket spurred Bangladesh. It also helped that an old problem for Indian bowling resurfaced and in Bumrah’s absence, the Bangladesh tail, led by Hridoy, put on 105 runs soon after Shakib departed.
Thakur, who finished with 3/65 in ten overs spoke to broadcasters Star Sports during the innings break about how India should have been tighter in their fielding. A fast outfield and a lack of discipline from the likes of Krishna, Ravindra Jadeja and Varma left too much for Thakur and Shami to do in the end.
Gill takes charge
Had Hridoy fumbled the catch at long-off, perhaps the story would have been different. But on a day when Gill became the leading run-scorer in ODI cricket in 2023, the Punjab opener would have hoped for a different result.
Unlike the bowling line-up, the Indian top order had only one change with the exclusion of Kohli. But from the first over, it looked like Gill would be the one taking charge of the second innings.
Sharma mistimed a slightly wide delivery off debutant Tanzim to be dismissed for a duck. Varma, also on debut, was Tanzim’s second wicket with the 20-year-old leaving only to see the bail of his off-stump knocked off.
All the while at the other end, Gill was desperate for someone to hang around long enough to build a partnership. KL Rahul helped Gill settle in while looking shaky himself and couldn’t hold on after reaching the 50 partnership for the third wicket, falling to Mahedi for 19.
Nearly half-way through the innings and India were struggling. It was as if there were two pitches in Colombo – the one that Gill was batting on and the one that the other where Indian batters were finding it difficult to time the ball well enough.
Ishan Kishan tried to release the pressure by attempting to reverse-sweep off Mehidy and wasted a review in trying to overturn the LBW decision that saw him depart for 5. Suryakumar Yadav then wobbled slightly before hitting 26 off 33 balls and missed a slow one from Shakib, when trying his trademark sweep shot. Jadeja too tried to go too big too quickly and Mustafizur bowled him out.
Gill continued to time the ball smoothly in his innings. After losing six partners, he finally found some able support in the from Patel who, despite getting knocked on both his forearms and even needing strapping on his thigh, hit three boundaries and two sixes to take it to the second last over.
But in the end, what made the difference was the lack of support for Gill, something that player of the match Shakib had in both Hridoy and Nasum Ahmed. On a day when India were supposed to showcase their squad depth, it was an area they have usually succeeded in – batting – where they fell short.