Opener Virender Sehwag ignored an injury to smash 175 and set up a massive 87-run win for India in the opening match of the World Cup against co-hosts Bangladesh on Saturday.
Out for revenge over Bangladesh for India’s five-wicket defeat in the 2007 World Cup, which helped lead to their first stage exit, Sehwag hit his highest one-day score off 140 balls, leading India to 370-4.
Chasing the improbable target of scoring nearly seven-and-half runs an over, Bangladesh ended their 50 overs on 283-9, which is still their highest total in a World Cup match in their fourth tournament.
Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan made 70 and 55 runs respectively, but after they departed Bangladesh were unable to even approach the formidable and ever increasing asking rate.
Pace bowler Munaf Patel gave India’s depleted pace attack, which suffered a blow ahead of the game with Ashish Nehra missing out following reports of a back injury, a boost by claiming four wickets for 48 runs in the win.
Man-of-the-match Sehwag, blasting his second ever World Cup century, made Bangladesh skipper Shakib bitterly regret his decision to bowl first on a placid wicket with 14 fours and five sixes.
He added 203 runs with Virat Kohli for the third wicket with the latter also completing a century in the final over. He finished on 100 not out off 83 balls in his World Cup debut.
“I’ve always said this is a revenge game and we really played well,” a beaming Sehwag said during the presentation ceremony, while delirious Indian fans blew conch horns around the stands. “I started really well and kept telling myself I have to bat at least 20, 30 overs. If I could bat [that long], I could maybe score a hundred in 30 overs.”
Sehwag needed a runner after reaching three figures having hurt his left knee while trying to push Rubel Hossain for a single in the 38th over of India’s innings.
“It’s a little sore,” he said.
Shakib said: “We bowled too many bad balls and that cost us the game. Virender Sehwag played a really good innings and he took the game away from us.”
NEW ZEALAND VS KENYA
New Zealand crushed Kenya by 10 wickets in a grossly lop-sided Group A match for a perfect start to their World Cup campaign yesterday.
New Zealand unleashed their pace trio of Tim Southee (3-13), Hamish Bennett (4-16) and Jacob Oram (3-2) to bundle out rank outsiders Kenya for a meager 69 in 23.5 overs and returned to overwhelm the target in eight overs.
There was not much room for batting practice chasing a 70-run victory target, but openers Martin Guptill (39) and Brendon McCullum (26) helped them to some easy boundaries before completing the chase.
The comprehensive win will lift New Zealand’s morale, which had taken a beating after a poor build-up that included whitewash in Bangladesh and India, besides a home series defeat against Pakistan.