Rohit Sharma made it a memorable 100th T20 international, as a captain and as a batsman, as he powered India to a convincing series-levelling win against Bangladesh in Rajkot on Thursday.
Blending grace with brutality in his 85 off 43 balls, Sharma helped India canter to an eight-wicket victory over Bangladesh as the hosts bounced back from their surprise defeat in Delhi.
On a far better batting track compared to Feroz Shah Kotla, Sharma showed the gulf in class between him and the others on the park, hitting six fours and six sixes as India chased the target of 154 in just 15.4 overs.
The three-match T20 series now stands at 1-1 and the final game will be played in Nagpur on November 10.
Such was Sharma’s dominance during the 118-run opening stand that it managed to overshadow Shikhar Dhawan’s (31 off 27 balls) struggles. Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul took India home after the stand-in captain fell 15 short of what would have been his fifth T20I century.
Sharma teed off in the fourth over of the innings when he hit an off-drive, followed by a cover drive and then a straight six off Mustafizur Rahman.
It was difficult to comeback from that point for Bangladesh as the Indian captain got boundaries and sixes at will.
Pacer Shafiul Islam was given the charge and hit over long-on for a six and slog sweep off spinner Afif Hossain brought up his 18th half-century in this format.
When off-spinner Mosaddek Hossain Saikat (0/21 in 1 over) tried to come round the wicket to try a negative line, Sharma hammered him for three sixes in a row, in the arc between long-on and mid-wicket.
Just when a fifth hundred in this format looked there for the taking, the skipper was out trying to hit a seventh six.
Earlier, Indian bowlers led by Yuzvendra Chahal made an impressive comeback to restrict Bangladesh to a sub-par 153/6 and then the dew also played its part on a good track where the ball was coming onto the bat.
Put into bat, Bangladesh could not capitalize on a good start as Chahal’s (2/28) double breakthrough in the 13th over pegged the visitors back. A quick-fire 30 off 21 balls by skipper Mahmudullah Riyad helped them cross the 150-mark but as he admitted later, it was at least 30 runs short of where they should have been.
Openers Liton Das (29 off 21 balls, 4x4) and Mohammad Naim (36 off 31 balls, 5x4) shared a 60 run opening stand. Naim slammed profligate left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed (1/44 from 4 overs) for three successive boundaries to start on rousing note. Seamer Deepak Chahar (1/25) and off-spinner Washington Sundar (1/25) did manage to stem the flow of runs but Khaleel’s poor show continued.
Chahal, on his introduction, had almost removed a set Liton, but Rishabh Pant’s urgency to complete glovework quickly gave the batsman lifeline. The replays showed that while whipping the bails off, Pant collected the ball in front of the stumps and hence it was declared no-ball. As per the law, every part of wicket-keeper’s gloves has to be behind the stumps.
Das then hammered two successive fours to add insult to injury.
He got another reprieve on 26 after skipper Rohit Sharma dropped him at square-leg following a mix-up with Shivam Dube and Pant. But Pant made up for his mistake and ran Das out, with a direct hit in the eighth over, to break the opening stand.
Das’s wicket slowed the scoring rate and that put Naim under pressure, who then gave a dolly to Shreyas Iyer at deep-mid-wicket off Washington as Bangladesh slumped were 83 for 2 in the 11th over.
And then Yuzvendra picked two wickets in the 13th over –Mushfiqur Rahim (4 off 6 balls), who gave a sitter to Krunal Pandya and then removed a set Soumya Sarkar (30 off 20 balls; 2x4, 1x6) – as Bangladesh were struggling at 103/4. Sarkar was stumped by Pant and they never got the momentum back.