Cyclone Maha that had threatened to disrupt the second T20I match between India and Bangladesh in Rajkot on Thursday fizzled out. Instead, a storm called Rohit Sharma, India’s stand-in captain, swept the Saurashtra Cricket Association ground on Thursday night as the hosts defeated the visitors by eight wickets to bounce back strongly and level the three-match series 1-1 with the decider scheduled for Sunday in Nagpur.
Rohit’s blistering innings of 85 off 43 balls fired India to a thumping victory over Bangladesh in the Rajkot match. The margin was bigger than Bangladesh’s seven-wicket win in the first match in Delhi which gave them a 1-0 lead. Rohit, who is deputizing for regular captain Virat Kohli in the T20I series, led from the front in a chase of 154 runs, smacking six sixes and an equal number of fours. And when he was finally dismissed by Aminul Islam in the 13th over of the innings, India’s triumph was all but sealed.
The Indian skipper featured in a 118-run opening partnership with Shikhar Dhawan who contributed 31 but it was Rohit who dominated the show in Rajkot. At one point, 32-year-old Rohit, playing his 100th T20I match, unleashed three sixes from the first three balls of a Mosaddek Hossain over. It seemed as if he was set to bring up his fifth T20I century but a miscued shot allowed Bangladesh some respite.
From there, K L Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who scored 24 runs from 13, carried on as India sealed victory with 26 balls to spare.
Rohit’s spectacular innings, which contained six sixes off pacemen Mustafizur Rahman and Shafiul Islam and spinner Mossadek Hossain, followed on from a top-heavy performance from a number of Bangladesh players who registered useful starts without being able to take their innings to another level in the vein of Rohit.
Rohit won the toss and rightly decided to field first even though the pitch was full of runs. Bangladesh opener Liton Das (29 runs from 21 balls) enjoyed a bit of luck when Indian wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant administered a stumping but only after his gloves had strayed a little in front of the stumps. Liton also survived a dropped catch when Rohit at square could not hold on to it when the batsman mistimed a sweep shot. Liton was eventually dismissed with 60 runs on the board for Bangladesh after Pant ran him out. His individual score was 29.
Naim and Liton provided a good start to Bangladesh with the openers scoring 41 runs in the first five overs. Naim (36 runs from 31 balls), Soumya Sarkar (30 from 20) and skipper Mahmudullah Riyad (30 from 21) were the others unable to truly go big in Rajkot and Bangladesh failed to find much success in the death overs. Naim played a fine innings in Rajkot once again demonstrating his power-hitting capability when he hammered Khaleel Ahmed for three successive boundaries in the latter’s very first over.
However, Indian spinners Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal put the brakes on Bangladesh restricting them to 153 for 6 on a placid Rajkot track. Leg spinner Chahal starred, picking up the crucial wickets of Mushfiqur Rahim, the star of the visitors’ victory in the first match in Delhi just four days ago, and Soumya in one over (his 13th over), changing the complexion of Bangladesh innings.
In Delhi, Mushfiqur had won the match for Bangladesh. But in Rajkot, he walked into a trap set up by Indian team. The deep mid-wicket was placed a little square for a mis-timed sweep. Chahal sent a full-length delivery on the off-stump and Mushfiqur went for a big hit and holed out a catch.