India lost to Bangladesh by six runs despite a measured hundred from opener Shubman Gill and a valiant 42 off 34 from Axar Patel in the last Super Four match of the Asia Cup at Colombo on Friday.
Having already reached Sunday’s final, India rested five players but Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan and Towhid Hridoy tested their reserve bowlers with fifties before a late onslaught helped them score 265. In reply, India were hobbling at 170/6 before Gill shepherded the chase with a mature knock, only to be dismissed with 57 runs still needed to win. Patel took the chase to the wire till Mustafizur Rahman’s cutter undid him in the penultimate over, leaving the last pair 12 to win from the last over.
Mohammed Shami was ultimately run out but defeat was handed to India in increments from the third over of the chase, each dismissal highlighting technical faults, shot selection errors and sometimes just a perplexing lack of patience.
No total these days prompts Rohit Sharma to hold back but under lights, and on a sticky pitch, his drive on the up turned into a feeble chip straight to Anamul Haque at cover point, giving Tanzim Hasan his first wicket on debut. Tilak Varma, the other debutant of the match, paid for shouldering arms to a Tanzim delivery that swung in instead of moving away.
The pressure of dot balls got to KL Rahul as he tried to force Mahedi Hasan off his legs but ended up miscueing it to short mid-wicket just when it seemed like India were out of the woods with a fifty-run partnership between Rahul and Gill. Ishan Kishan was trapped leg-before trying to shuffle across the stumps, but bigger disappointment came in the form of the dismissal of Suryakumar Yadav, for whom this was the ideal opportunity to stake claim in the middle-order tussle for the World Cup.
Ravindra Jadeja’s departure almost capsized the innings but Gill steered India out of that crisis by carting Tanzim for consecutive boundaries just after reaching his hundred. It wasn’t the most fluent hundred from Gill, with Bangladesh’s slow bowlers—led by Shakib—mixing up their lengths well and bowling slower through the air.
But Gill persevered by rotating the strike well—almost half of his 121 came in singles and twos—and getting a few boundaries out of the way whenever he could. He looked sublime, heaving Mahedi over deep midwicket for a six in the 44th over, but couldn’t clear long-off the next ball.
Electing to bowl was as much about testing their batting under lights as well as giving the backup bowlers some game time with Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Siraj and Kuldeep Yadav rested. Shardul Thakur and Shami triggered a predictable collapse of Bangladesh’s top order till Shakib again proved he tends to reserve his best for India with an 85-ball 80.
But more predictable was the late order surge against India, with another Bangladesh’s No 8—this time Nasum Ahmed—resisting with a 45-ball 44. Thakur ended up the most expensive, conceding at 6.5 per over but he also accounted for the all-important wicket of Shakib.
It was an innocuous incoming delivery, just short of length, that Shakib tried to run down the third man but instead a bottom edge onto his stumps. By then however, Shakib had already bailed Bangladesh, taking them from a precarious 59/4 to 160, adding 101 runs for the fifth wicket with Mehidy Hasan Miraz with Hridoy.
From there India should have ideally restricted Bangladesh to around 220 but first Hridoy and then Ahmed slowly nudged them past 250. There was some sloppiness in the field, with catches being dropped and wides conceded trying to premeditate the cute shots.
Those, a 29-run cameo by Mahedi Hasan and two boundary hits from Tanzim meant Bangladesh had scored 77 runs in the last 10 overs, almost negating India’s gains in the middle overs.