Sehwag And Gambhir Drive India To Easy Victory

Indian openers Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir blasted their side to a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh and confirmed an India-Pakistan final in the Kitply Tri-Nation ODI series in Mirpur. Gambhir stroked an unbeaten 107 as India easily surpassed Bangladesh's 222 all out in the 36th over after Sehwag had scored 59. A career-best 89 from Raqibul Hasan set up the home side's score. Leading India's pursuit, Sehwag was in blistering form, smashing 59 from just 32 balls, including two huge sixes over cover before he was caught by Tamim Iqbal off of Dolar Mahmud. Mahmud's first over in the match went for 24, the most ever for a Bangladeshi against India but he came back well to end Sehwag's mesmerising innings. He also hit seven fours in an 85-run stand with Gambhir, who went to his own fifty from 57 balls as he shared a half-century stand with Rohit Sharma (26). Sharma came to the crease with his side needing three runs per over to win, soon hit a six and perished unnecessarily trying to take on Abdur Razzak but it took a fine catch from Mashrafe Mortaza to end his innings. Yuvraj Singh announced his arrival with a six over midwicket as the game appeared to be slipping away from Bangladesh. Yuvraj slowed down, allowing Gambhir the chance to make his fifth One Day International century and he was bowled late on by a Mahmud slower ball, leaving Suresh Raina to accompany Gambhir, who accelerated late on, to victory. Earlier, a career-best score of 89 from Raqibul Hasan put them in with a chance. Bangladesh, who must win, and win well (restricting India to 177 or less), to give themselves a chance of making Saturday's final, got off to a poor start before Roqibul's innings put them back on the right track, and they were eventually bowled out for 222 in the final over. Tamim Iqbal was caught by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off of Praveen Kumar for a duck and Shahriar Nafees (nine) bowled by returning RP Singh, playing in place of Ishant Sharma. Mohammad Ashraful played almost exclusively through third man via outside edges in the early part of the innings before settling down and working singles as he and Raqibul Hasan added 76 for the third wicket. Their stand was ended when Ashraful (33) was caught and bowled by Yusuf Pathan, his first wicket in international cricket. Mushfiqur Rahim's torrid time with the bat continued when he was caught by Suresh Raina trying to hit Piyush Chawla out of the ground for six. The result was a high catch midway down the pitch. Raqibul passed his half-century, looking as composed as his captain had and he formed a useful partnership with Alok Kapali (20), taking the score past 150 before Kapali was bowled by Irfan Pathan, who up until then had bowled beautifully without reward. Raqibul's brave innings, which included five fours and an onset of cramp, was ended when he flat batted RP Singh to Praveen Kumar at mid-on when he had made 89. His knock held the Bangladesh innings together and was his second half-century at One Day International level. Mahmudullah (24) smashed Virender Sehwag for a big six before being well caught by Sehwag off of RP Singh, Sehwag avoiding the inrushing Raina before Farhad Reza was run out by Rohit Sharma for five. Mashrafe Mortaza (13) and Dolar Mahmud (nought) fell in the final over, bowled by Irfan Pathan, leaving Abdur Razzak unbeaten on eight. India beat Pakistan by 140 runs two days ago after Pakistan beat Bangladesh by 70 runs in the opening match of the tournament, which serves as preparation for the Asia Cup which begins later this month in Pakistan. John Pennington © Cricket World 2008