CHAMPIONS TROPHY: Rohit, Kohli set up India/Pakistan final
India cruised past Bangladesh to set up a mouth-watering Champions Trophy final against fierce rivals Pakistan. Bangladesh looked likely to post a big total at Edgbaston, but from 154-2 they lost both Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) to Kedar Jadhav, and could only muster 264-7.
India were in complete control throughout the chase – Rohit Sharma made an unbeaten 123 and Virat Kohli 96 not out as a nine-wicket win was sealed with almost 10 overs to spare. Sunday’s final is at The Oval, where India will attempt to retain the crown they won in 2013.
It is likely to be a raucous, vibrant and colourful occasion and will hopefully produce a contest to match after two one-sided semi-finals – this and Pakistan’s defeat of England on Wednesday.
India set up dream final
India-Pakistan tussles – the most-watched in cricket and amongst the highest audiences for all world sport – have been limited to major tournaments for more than four years. Political tensions mean they have not played a Test match since 2007 or a bilateral series since 2012-13. All recent meetings have either been in International Cricket Council competitions or the Asia Cup.
Though they faced each other in the 2007 World Twenty20 final, which India won, they have never contested a global 50-over decider. India will start as favourites, especially after they trounced Pakistan in their opening game of the tournament. However, Pakistan have steadily improved and were brilliant in dumping out highly fancied hosts England.
Jadhav changes the game
On a pacy, true Edgbaston surface, Bangladesh – in their first global semi-final – were well placed for a score that would test India when Tamim and Mushfiqur were compiling a third-wicket stand of 123.
Tamim, bowled off a Hardik Pandya no-ball on 16, had only 12 off 35 balls but accelerated against the same bowler and Ravichandran Ashwin, while Mushfiqur busily accumulated with deft touches and nudges off the pads.
As India were beginning to run short of options, they turned to the slingy part-time off-spin of Jadhav, a man with just six previous ODI wickets. Tamim played an awful slog to be bowled and Mushfiqur hit a full toss straight to mid-wicket, surrendering the initiative.
The excellent Jasprit Bumrah led India’s death bowling, the Bangladesh total belatedly boosted by Mashrafe Mortaza’s 25-ball 30 not out.
Rohit leads India romp
If the suspicion was that Bangladesh were short of a competitive total, it was confirmed by the way that Rohit and opening partner Shikhar Dhawan set about the chase. Dhawan, the tournament’s leading run-scorer, belted the ball square of the wicket on both sides in a 34-ball 46. His charge was only ended by an awful slice to point off Mashrafe.
Rohit was measured throughout, cutting, pulling and driving his way to an 11th ODI century that was completed with a hook for six off left-arm pace bowler Mustafizur Rahman. He shared an unbroken 178 with captain Kohli, who played an array of trademark cover drives as he passed 8,000 ODI runs.
It was barely a contest, but still entertainment that was lapped up by the India fans in a crowd of 24,340 – a record for an ODI at Edgbaston. (BBC Sport)