Colombo: Shakib Al Hasan and Towhid Hridoy exploited the reduced firepower in India’s bowling attack to score half-centuries and guide Bangladesh to a healthy 265 for 8 in their Asia Cup Super Four match here on Friday.
Shakib played an innings that suited a captain, scoring 80 off 85 balls and Hridoy supported him with a stubborn 81-ball 54, after India put them to bat.
In the context of the tournament, the match did not carry much significance as India have already qualified for the final. They will face Sri Lanka in the summit clash on Sunday.
Hence on the periphery, it made sense that India rested five first-choice players in – Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav.
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It also gave India a chance to hand an ODI debut to Tilak Varma, while Mohammed Shami, Suryakumar Yadav, Shardul Thakur and Prasidh Krishna too got some game time.
But in the larger scheme of things, India achieved two goals. The performance was just enough to send a message to Sri Lanka about their readiness for the big day.
The performance of the fringe players might have come as an assurance to the team management about the availability of back-up for any eventuality, such as the continued uncertainty over Shreyas Iyer’s fitness.
And none could have offered a happier omen to them than Shami’s spell with the new ball. The veteran pacer started the day’s proceedings on a cracking note, disturbing the stumps of Litton Das.
Shami made the ball move off the seam that tiny bit to beat Das, who failed to get behind the ball.
Thakur (3 for 65) too got into the act in his own style. He was the most expensive of India bowlers going over six runs an over, but kept chipping at Bangladesh line-up with a couple of wickets.
Shakib, who added 101 runs for the fifth wicket with Hridoy, made a confidence-boosting fifty for himself after struggling to make an impact recently.
The left-hander was severe on Axar Patel, hammering the left-arm spinner for two consecutive sixes, but there was not much support for him from the other end except for the young Hridoy.
The Shakib-Hridoy partnership also rescued Bangladesh from total disaster which they appeared to have headed at 59 for 4 in the 14th over.
But they could not expand their knocks as Shakib was cleaned up by Thakur, while Shami accounted for Hridoy.
However, Nasum Ahmed (44 off 45 balls) pushed Bangladesh past the 250-run mark as Indian bowlers lost some direction.
India could have brought curtains on Bangladesh innings much quicker had they held on to three catches – Suryakumar, Tilak and KL Rahul being the offenders.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 265 for 8 in 50 overs (Shakib Al Hasan 80, Towid 54 Hridoy; Shardul Thakur 3/65)