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Rohit ton puts India in final

15 June 2017 National Sport

Rampant India will defend their ICC Champions Trophy title against Pakistan in Sunday’s final after trouncing Bangladesh by nine wickets in the semi-final, at Edgbaston.

Opener Rohit Sharma (123no) led the way, striking his 11th ODI hundred, as India cruised to their victory target with consummate ease in just 40.1 overs after restricting Bangladesh to 264-7 despite Tamim Iqbal’s 70.

Rohit reached his century with a six off Mustafizur Rahman after putting on 87 for the first wicket with Golden Bat front-runner Shikhar Dhawan (46), the right-hander sealing Bangladesh’s fate in ruthless fashion in an unbroken stand of 178 with captain Virat Kohli (96no).

The Tigers, playing in the last four of a major tournament for the first time, lacked sufficient all-round firepower to contain an Indian side aiming to become the second team after Australia to win back-to-back titles.

To do so, Kohli’s men must overcome a Pakistan side they crushed by 124 runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in the fourth match of the tournament.

Fierce rivals Pakistan should pose a much stronger challenge this time around, though, after rallying from that humiliating defeat to win three matches in a row, knocking hosts and favourites England out in the process.

Bangladesh, put in to bat, faded from a position of strength after a third-wicket stand of 123 between Tamim and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) suggested a total of nearer 300 was within their reach.

Instead, they stuttered from 154-2 to 179-5 after Tamim fell to Kedar Jadhav (2-22), whose two wickets were matched by Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-53) and Jasprit Bumrah (2-39).

Tamim and Mushfiqur came together after Bhuvneshwar bowled Soumya Sarkar second ball and had Sabbir Rahman (19) caught at backward point, ending a 21-ball cameo.

The pair rotated the strike well, Tamim taking time to bed in after being bowled off a front foot Hardik Pandya no-ball.

The left-hander signalled his growing intent by clipping Pandya for the first six of the match on his way to a 62-ball fifty and then striking three boundaries off one Ravichandran Ashwin over, the pick of them an inside-out drive over extra cover.

Mushfiqur, meanwhile, survived a tight stumping chance off Jadeja – just getting his foot behind the line before Dhoni whipped off the bails – and reached his half-century off 61 balls, his 26th in ODIs.

The platform set, Tamim sought to raise the rate further only to be bowled by a round-arm slower delivery from Jadeja as he looked to slog-sweep.

A wobble ensued as Shakib Al Hasan, so assured as he and Mahmudullah shared a record-breaking stand of 224 against New Zealand, was caught off the toe end of the bat as he tried to cut Jadeja.

Two runs later Mushfiqur latched onto a full toss from Jadhav but miscued it to midwicket where Kohli anticipated well, moving to his right to take the catch.

Ashwin fared less well, dropping Mahmudullah (21) on four at third man off Pandya – the error quickly rectified by Bumrah, who knocked out the batsman’s off-stump with a supreme yorker.

Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza (30no) gave the innings some belated thrust, sharing an unbroken stand of 35 with Taskin Ahmed, but at halfway Bangladesh felt run-light.

So it proved as Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan ticked over at six-an-over in the first powerplay, Rohit driving three glorious boundaries off one Mustafizur over and Dhawan crunching a flat six over square leg off Taskin Ahmed.

The pair drew the sting out of Bangladesh’s seam attack – Dhawan overtaking Tamim in the race for the Golden Bat, awarded to the tournament’s leading run-scorer, before falling trying to force the issue and miscuing Mashrafe’s slower ball to point.

With the run-rate hovering around five, Kohli could ease his way into his innings and was soon in cruise control, picking off boundaries seemingly at will with superb timing in a 42-ball fifty.

The skipper eased past 8,000 ODI career runs – the quickest player to do so, in just 175 innings – with the match as good as won as India got home at a canter.

Watch India take on Pakistan in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy live on Sky Sports 2 from 10am this Sunday.

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