In an All-Asian semi-final between defending champions India and the constantly rising Bangladesh, it was India who marched on to another final. We look at the talking points.
Bangladesh did not start with the right plan
When you play your first semi-final on the global stage, you would want to take your time and ease yourselves into the game. Bangladesh did the opposite. Soumya Sarkar was bowled in the first over trying to play an expansive drive. Sabbir Rahman too came out looking to play shots off every ball. Though he scored four boundaries, he never looked settled and lost his wicket in the seventh over. With the tournament’s highest run-getter on the other end, surely application and a measured start was the right way to go. 31/2 after seven overs was proof that Bangladesh did not go with the right plan.
Tamim and Mushfiqur looked at ease
After being reduced to 31/2 in the first seven overs, the pressure was right on Bangladesh. Though the calm heads of Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim ensured there would be no collapse. Both first saw off the Indian opening bowlers and kept on milking the singles. When Hardik Pandya was introduced, both attacked him and took 28 off his three overs. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja looked ineffective too. Putting on a partnership of 122 in 21 overs, both gave Bangladesh a platform for a strong finish playing measured cricket, without any undue risk.
India took the game away in the middle overs, once again
When Tamim and Rahim were in middle of a strong partnership, Virat Kohli turned to Kedar Jadhav and the move paid dividends. Jadhav first dismissed Tamim before Jadeja got Shakib. From 154/2 they were reduced to 179/5, Jadhav had dismissed Rahim too. All this happened between overs 28-36, India removed the ‘Big Three’ of Bangladesh, Bangladesh never recovered and could only get 264 when 320 looked a big possibility.
Rohit Sharma is back and firing
It’s not easy to be out of international cricket for seven months and perform brilliantly on your first tournament back, especially a global tournament like the Champions Trophy. Rohit Sharma though has not been deterred by that. After getting two fifties in the opening two games, Rohit finally converted a start into a hundred and never looked under any pressure. He first let Shikhar Dhawan play aggressively, took on the bowling when Dhawan was dismissed and when Kohli started playing aggressively, he was happy to play second fiddle. Rohit has reached 304 runs for the tournament, second only to opening partner Dhawan, who has 317 runs. It’s true, Rohit Sharma is back and firing.
Virat Kohli played his best innings of the tournament
Virat Kohli had scores of 81 not out, 0 and 76 not out in the group stages. Against Pakistan, Kohli looked to be struggling for timing early on but accelerated late into his innings. Against Sri Lanka, he had a match to forget. He again guided India to a successful chase against South Africa with a 101-ball 76 not out but struggled for momentum throughout. But here against Bangladesh, Kohli produced a special knock, full of elegance and class. During his 78-ball 96 not out, Kohli struck 13 fours, all proper cricketing shots with minimul fuss. Not once did he look in under any kind of pressure and neither did he play a false shot. It was his best innings of the tournament so far and it came at the right time before a crunch final against Pakistan.