Birmingham, June 15 (TNS): Indian opener Rohit Sharma’s brilliant century and a superb knock from captain Virat Kohli helped India beat Bangladesh by nine wickets in the ICC Champions Trophy semifinal and set up a dream final with arch-rivals Pakistan.
Rohit Sharma’s 11th one-day hundred (123 not out, 129 balls, 15 fours and 1 six) ensured India’s fine win after Bangladesh set India a target of 265 in Birmingham on Thursday.
Sharma shared a fine 87-run opening partnership for the first wicket with Shikhar Dhawan (46, 34 balls, 7 fours, 1 six).
After Dhawan got out, Kohli (96 not out, 78 balls, 13 fours) joined Rohit in the middle and what followed next was a superb exhibition of stroke-play from the two gifted Indian batsmen.
Kohli also became the fastest player to reach the 8000-run landmark in one-day cricket.
Rohit relied on timing as Bangladesh new-ball bowlers – Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed – looked clueless against the Indian batsmen who reached the victory target in 40.1 overs.
Earlier, part-time spinner Kedar Jadhav and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja brought India back into the match after Bangladesh batsmen Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim looked set to put Bangladesh in a commanding position.
Inspired by the two quick wickets from Jadhav and Jadeja, Indian bowlers fought back to restrict Bangladesh to 264/7 in 50 overs.
But at one stage, it looked like Bangladesh would post a 300-plus total on what was a pretty good wicket to bat.
Despite losing two quick wickets, Tamim (70, 82b 7×4 1×6) was in fine form as the experienced left-hander shared a 123 runs partnership in 21.1 overs with Mushfiqur to give Bangladesh a solid platform.
But Indian captain Kohli turned to the part-time spin of Jadhav after ace off-spinner R Ashwin couldn’t make any impact on the rival batsmen.
That turned out to be an inspired move from the Indian captain as Jadav bowled Tamim (70, 82b 7×4 1×6), ending that brilliant partnership.
Bangladesh, after being reduced to 31/2 in 6.5 overs, then lost Shakib Al Hasan (15) as the star all-rounder was caught behind by MS Dhoni off Jadeja.
Mushfiqur, who had batted so well for his 61 (85b 4×4), threw his wicket away by hitting a low full toss from Jadav straight into the hands of Indian captain Kohli at mid-wicket.
Bangladesh were 154/2 in 27.5 overs. But those three quick wickets by Jadav and Jadeja had given a India a real chance to restrict their opponents to a modest score.
At the end of 36 overs, Bangladesh were 183/5 with two new men Mosaddek Hossain and Mahmudullah at the crease.
But Mahmudullah and Hossain batted sensibly while never missing a chance to punish the loose balls.
Hossain (15, 25b 3×4), after adding 39 runs for the sixth wicket with Mahmudullah in 7.1 overs, miss-timed a pull shot to give a simple return catch to Bumrah as Bangladesh lost their sixth wicket at 213/6 in 42.3 overs.
Bangladesh reached 227/6 in 45 overs. Mahmudullah then got out when he was bowled by Bumrah for 21 (25b 2×4) as Bangladesh lost five wickets for 70 runs after that 123 runs partnership for the third wicket between Tamim and Mushfiqur.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza (30, 25 balls, 5 fours) then led from the front to ensure Bangladesh post a competitive total of 264/7 in 50 overs.
But it wasn’t enough at the end as the Indian batsmen made a mockery of the Bangladesh attack by winning the match with nine wickets in hand.
In the first semifinal, Pakistan stunned title-favourites England by eight wickets to reach their first ever Champions Trophy final.
So now all eyes are on Sunday’s final after Kohli’s men set up a dream finale with their arch-rivals Pakistan.