Benjamin Franklin had once said that diligence is the mother of good luck. KL Rahul has not been in the best of form with the bat but was seen working hard on his batting with Kohli in the nets before the game against Bangladesh. His diligence paid off brilliantly on Wednesday as he not only scored a belligerent 50 off 31 balls but helped India escape a scare courtesy of his brilliant direct hit to run Litton Das out which became the turning point of the match. Eventually, India pipped Bangladesh by 5 runs (DLS) to get to the top of the points table in their group and now seem poised to reach the final four.
Despite setting a stiff target of 185, India were rocked back by Bangladesh opener Litton Das who came up with a cracking half-century in just 21 balls. As he peppered the boundary almost at will, Das dominated the opening stand and took the team’s score to 60 without loss in the Powerplay. Das had hit 56 of those runs while his partner Najmul Santo got just 4.
Das had taken his team to such a flier that Bangladesh seemed odd-on favourites to clinch the clash as they reached 66/0 in 7 overs. A sudden downpour, however, turned the course of the match.
Defending a revised target of 151 in 16 overs following the rain interruption, India were in a tough spot. But in a moment of individual brilliance, KL Rahul’s stunning direct hit from deep midwicket saw Litton Das fall short of the crease. His dismissal for 60 triggered a shift in momentum. With wickets falling regularly, India kept tightening the noose and ultimately, Bangladesh finished with 145/6 in 16 overs.
The crucial win in this Super 12 match has greatly brightened Team India’s chances of reaching the semi-finals. With 6 points from 4 games, India now needs to only beat Zimbabwe on Sunday to clinch their place in the Top Four.
Earlier, India was put in to bat first under overcast skies and the openers looked shaky in the first few overs. With Rahul being circumspect initially, Rohit took it upon himself to up the ante but soon perished to Hasan Mahmud getting caught trying to hit one out of the park. With Kohli at the crease, there was an immediate sense of urgency and the strike was rotated much better helping Rahul to relax and gain confidence.
While India’s powerplay was dull with just 37 runs with the loss of 1 wicket, the next three overs produced a whopping 41 runs. Rahul turned the heat on the Bangladeshi bowlers and punished anything that was short or wide. His 50 was studded with 3 fours and 4 sixes. When he got out in the tenth over, he had ensured a strong base for India to raise a big score.
The in-form Suryakumar and Kohli stitched a racy 38-run partnership before Surya was bowled by Shakib as he looked to cut one between point and short third man. India’s innings saw a bit of wobble with a flurry of quick wickets but Kohli stood tall continuing his good form. His score of 64 saw him win the Player of the Match. Ashwin too chipped at the end with a couple of boundaries to push the total beyond 180, which looked like a steep task for Bangladesh.
At the innings change, many experts felt that India had an above-par score considering the low-scoring entertainers we’ve had throughout the tournament. Though Litton Das gave Bangladesh a flying start, once he was gone after the rain break, the tide turned in India’s favour. Besides tight bowling, India’s fielding, which was below average in the previous games, was top-class in this contest. Under floodlights and windy conditions, Indian fielders grabbed all their chances. Ultimately, needing 20 of the last over, it proved too much for Bangladesh – though an amazing six by Nurul Hasan had increased the blood pressure of many Indian fans.
The narrow win, via the DLS method, still does not guarantee India a place in the last four as the Men in Blue will need to win against Zimbabwe on Sunday. However, the win ensures that India’s fate is largely in their own hands and if they beat Zimbabwe, they will definitely finish among the Top 2 in the group. Even if their last game is washed off, Team India will end up with 7 points which will enable them to get through to the Semis as barring South Africa no other side in the group can now reach 7 points.
Despite their two defeats, Pakistan too is still in the race for the semis. With two matches left, Pakistan can get to six points and also has a healthy net run rate. But if Pakistan loses to South Africa in the next game, then India’s semi-final dream will get a boost while Babar Azam’s men will be ousted. However, if Pakistan beats South Africa on Thursday and Bangladesh on Sunday by decent margins, and Zimbabwe beats India, Pakistan could still squeak through.
However, the close contests so far, have given Team India a strong momentum and boosted their morale along with self-confidence. Ultimately, these could be vital as the knockout stage of the T20 World Cup beckons for all teams.