With a comprehensive 109-run win over Bangladesh in the quarter-final clash at the Melbourne Cricket Ground India advanced into the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup, 2015. Rohit Sharma, who had been in patchy form on the tour, lifted India to a formidable total in the all-important knock-out game against Bangladesh.
The stylish opener, who last scored a century (138 vs Australia) at the same venue, chose the big occasion to come good again. He held the innings together with a stoically compiled 137 as wickets fell at other end. He bided his time at the crease as he shaped the innings and changed gears later to capitalise on the start. He found an able ally in Suresh Raina (65 off 57) and their 122-run stand for the fourth wicket helped India set Bangladesh a 303-run target.
The Umesh Yadav (four for 31), Mohammad Shami-led attack then bowled the opponents out for 193 to take India into the next round.
Earlier, after beginning the game with a beautifully timed boundary through covers off Mashrafe Mortaza Rohit stitched a 75-run stand with Shikhar Dhawan that laid a solid foundation for a later acceleration.
The openers scored at an unhurried pace and kept the boundaries flowing to maintain the upper-hand. They had put together 51 runs in the mandatory powerplay and with wickets intact and the balance was tipping in India's favour. Rohit, who looked in good nick, pulled Taskin Ahmed over square-leg while Nasir Hossain was slammed straight back to the fence. The first six of the match came with Rohit lofting Nasir straight down to get the momentum going. But Shakib Al Hasan struck in his first over to send Dhawan back. The left-handed opener came down the track looking to drive the spinner but missed and was stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim. Virat Kohli followed him back in the next over. Chasing a wide Rubel Hossain delivery, he perished nicking it to the wicketkeeper.
With two quick wickets, Bangladesh had found their way back into the game and they bowled a disciplined line to peg back the run-rate. With runs hard to come by and Ajinkya Rahane looking edgy the pair prodded the team past the three-figure mark. Rohit dropped anchor and steadfastly held one end-up as he reached his third half-century of the tournament with a single towards long-on off Shakib. With Ahmed claiming Rahane the partnership ended for 36 runs. The middle-order bat who was struggling to find his timing was caught in the extra-cover region by Shakib.
With India on 115 for three, Raina joined Rohit in the middle and with singles and the odd boundary they worked to re-build the innings. The side was on 155 for three when the batting powerplay was taken and Raina kick-started it by lofting Mortaza over covers for four and followed up with a boundary. The left-hand batsman took on the bowlers and hit Shakib over long-on in the next. The Rohit-Raina pair found the ropes with ease as they got the momentum going and collected 50 runs in the five-over duration.
They upped the ante in the last ten overs. While Raina brought up his half-century, Rohit reached his hundred with two runs through covers off a Mortaza no-ball in the next. India were cruising forward when the left-hand middle-order bat who had alleviated the pressure, perished top-edging Mortaza high in the air; Rahim took the catch to end the stand for 122.
Rohit, however continued to build on the innings and slammed the bowler for four. He lofted Rubel over long-off for six, whipped him to the boundary past mid-wicket and finished the over with a boundary through extra cover to claim 16 off the over. In the following over Taskin was dismissed over deep mid-wicket for six and whacked to the square-leg boundary but a ball later, a delivery that stayed low dislodged Rohit's bails.
While the bowler followed-up with the wicket of MS Dhoni in his next, Ravindra Jadeja took the team past 300 with an unbeaten 10-ball 23.
Defending the total, Yadav and Shami bowled a couple of quiet overs early on. But facing a mammoth target, Tamim Iqbal took on Shami and slammed the pacer for three boundaries in an over in an effort to get Bangladesh off to a flying start. However, he didn't last long. Umesh Yadav forced a nick through to the wicket-keeper and Dhoni took a low catch to send back the opener back for 24. And Jadeja's lightening quick reflexes at short backward square-leg ran Imrul Kayes out at the non-striker's end on the next ball.
At 33 for two, Bangladesh had two new batsmen – Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Mahmudullah at the crease. The duo added 40 runs at a steady pace until the No 4 bat top-edged Shami in front of fine-leg and where Dhawan juggled the ball and pulled off an acrobatic catch at the ropes.
The Indian skipper marshaled his bowling resources well never allowing the batsmen to settle down. A little over three overs later, Dhoni took a one-handed catch diving to his left to send back Sarkar and give Shami his second scalp. Shakib and Rahim then chipped away at the bowling to add 14 runs to the tally until the former departed handing a simple catch to Shami at backward point.
With the side on the mat at 104 for five, Sabbir Rahman joined Rahim and the pair trudged along until Yadav got the better of the latter with the short-ball. Looking to pull, Rahim only managed to send the ball high in the air and Dhoni took the catch.
Nasir, who came to the crease and edged Yadav through the slips for four, while Rahman followed-up with two more. With the run-rate climbing up, the lower middle-order batsman swung his bats around and hit six boundaries and survived before hitting Jadeja straight to Ashwin at cover. Mohit Sharma then Mortaza edge the ball to wicketkeeper to bring India within couple of wickets of victory. Rubel perished taking the aerial route off Yadav and accounted for Rahman with the short ball to wrap-up the match with 30 balls to spare.
Man of the Match:Rohit Sharma for his match-winning 137 off 126 balls
India 302/6 in 50 overs (R Sharma 137, S Raina 65, T Ahmed 3/69) beat Bangladesh 193 all out in 45 overs (N Hossain 35, U Yadav 4/31, M Shami 2/37) by 109 runs