Colombo: Shubman Gill gave an awesome display of his talent while registering his fifth ODI hundred, but Bangladesh managed to eke out an unexpected six-run win over India in an Asia Cup Super Four match here on Friday.
Gill’s 121 off 133 balls was exceptional. But it was not enough to drag India past Bangladesh’s 265 for 8, built around fifties by Shakib al Hasan (80) and Towhid Hridoy (54) after they were put into bat. India were bowled out for 259.
Axar Patel (42 off 34 balls) tried gamely to bring India back into the game with some heavy blows, but the target stayed just beyond India’s grasp.
But in the tournament’s context, the result did not matter as India had already entered the final. They will face Sri Lanka on Sunday. But the night belonged to Gill, despite the end result.
Gill’s batting is all about timing and minimalism. He pulls but not with the flourish of Rohit Sharma, and he drives but not with the flair of Virat Kohli. But Gill lends his own aesthetics and grace to his game. Sample this.
Shakib dropped one a bit short and Gill stepped out just enough to meet the ball in its pitch. It was not the shimmy of a ballet dancer, but the precise footwork of a boxer.
There was no explosive loft over covers that one would normally expect, but Gill ended the moment with a simple check drive that sailed for a six over wide long-off.
Gill did that twice in one over against off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz – once over long-on and the second time straight over the bowler’s head.
The knock was remarkable also because Gill hardly received any support from the other end.
Apart from Gill none of the Indian batsmen looked part on this night, and they started the chase on a disastrous note.
Since Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya were among the five rested players, India needed heftier contributions from captain Rohit Sharma and the rest of the batters.
India also gave a break to pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
But the contributions from other batsmen never really arrived, as the highest partnership in India’s innings was a 57 between Gill and KL Rahul for the third wicket.
India started the chase in a rocky manner as Rohit departed in the first over itself, perishing to Tanzim Hasan after a half-hearted, uppish drive.
Tilak Varma, who made his ODI debut in this match, shouldered arms to Tanzim only to see his stumps getting disturbed.
Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav, who played one sweep shot too many, failed to get going against a plethora of Bangladesh spinners. Among the ruins around him, Gill batted with a lot of composure. But his innings was destined to end as a study material to his unique batsmanship, rather than a catalyst to an Indian win. He holed out in the deep off Mahedi Hasan.
Earlier, Shakib and Hridoy exploited the reduced firepower in India’s bowling attack to score half-centuries. 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 with the bat.
The left-hander was severe on Axar, hammering the left-arm spinner for two consecutive sixes, but he found the desired only from 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 Shardul Thakur, while Mohammed Shami accounted for Hridoy. However, Nasum Ahmed (44 off 45 balls) pushed Bangladesh past the 250-run mark as Indian bowlers lost some direction towards the business end.
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.
That laxity on the field and by the bowlers helped Bangladesh to post a competitive total that proved just enough.