Seven matches and 70 wickets later, India are still in the running to for title. Many fans had booked their holidays around the group stage matches with no expectations for the team to make it any further. They had not accounted for Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form, or for Mohammed Shami to be sitting third on the wicket takers list.
The 19th of March marked the day MS Dhoni took his team to an unbeaten streak of 10 spectacular wins. India were playing Bangladesh in the quarterfinals of the 2015 World Cup. Bangladesh had a great run in the lead up to the game, they had beaten England and given New Zealand a real run for their money in the group stages. However they were playing in the big leagues now. A format they were not used to, a format where one misfield could knock them out of the running. They were also playing at the intimidating ground of the MCG. On the same ground that they had played poorly against Sri Lanka in the group stages. They were also playing the current champions who were more fired up than ever.
It was expected that India would win and go on to play the semi-final in Sydney but this was a day of belief for the Bangladesh team and their fans. They had beaten England and made it into the knock-outs. Could they go all the way?
The might of the MCG and the pressure of the game appeared to be too much for Bangladesh. They started the day off bowling great lines and lengths and constantly questioning the Indian batsmen. They were able to remove Shikhar Dhawan who was closely followed by Virat Kohli and then Ajinkya Rahane. At 115-3 from 28 overs, it was looking like they could limit India to under 270 runs. However Suresh Raina was next in and along with Rohit Sharma who was still at the crease, they accelerated. It was the partnership that broke Bangladesh. Raina had been such a key player in so many of the World Cup matches and once again he performed beautifully. A lot of powerful hitting, some misfields and some unfortunate decisions allowed India to push past 300 runs. Sharma ended on a match winning 137 which was well backed up by Raina’s 65.
Bangladesh had almost given up hope, they looked unfocused. There was no diving for the ball to stop the boundaries, there was no support for the bowlers and there was no team spirit left on the field by the end of the innings. They had been defeated.
Bangladesh went on to lose the match by 109 runs. India were in control of the game from the start and constantly picked off wickets as partnerships began to build up. Bangladesh’s key performer in the previous two matches, Mohammad Mahmadullah, was removed for 21 and Nasir Hossain top scored with 35.
It was as though the team had given up on themselves before their fans. They had done well to get where they had and they will have a lot to take home and build on in preparation for the 2019 World Cup.