India reach World Cup semi-finals -- Pakistan next?
19 March 2015, 15:33
Sydney - India cruised into the World Cup semi-finals Thursday with a crushing 109-run win over Bangladesh, setting up a possible showdown with bitter rivals Pakistan for a place in the final.
Rohit Sharma's 137 helped the defending champions shake-off Bangladesh's shackles to pile-up 302 for six at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
In reply, and trying to become the first team to successfully chase a 300-plus run target to win a one-day international at the MCG, Bangladesh were never in contention, slipping to 193 all out in the 45th over.
Nasir Hossain top scored for the Tigers, playing in their first quarter-final, with a modest 35 as India celebrated a seventh win in seven games at this World Cup.
Fast bowler Umesh Yadav took four for 31, while captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni celebrated his 100th ODI victory as skipper.
India will play Pakistan in the semi-finals in Sydney on March 26 if their bitter rivals defeat Australia in a quarter-final in Adelaide on Friday.
The other semi-final, to be played in Auckland on March 24, will feature South Africa against either New Zealand or the West Indies, who meet in Wellington on Saturday.
Sharma hit a seventh ODI ton and shared a crucial fourth-wicket partnership of 122 with Suresh Raina (65) after India had struggled to 115 for three in the 28th over.
The opener was eventually out, bowled by Taskin Ahmed, with three overs left, for 137 off 126 balls, having hit 14 fours and three sixes.
However, he had a lucky escape on 90 when he was caught in the deep off the impressive Rubel Hossain only for the delivery to be called a no-ball after the umpires adjudged it to be above waist height, even though TV replays suggested otherwise.
"I think this is right up there as my most important innings. I wanted to bat for as long as possible to put the team into a good situation and the bowlers did a fantastic job as they did in the league stage," said Sharma.
"I wanted to make the most of it. I'm happy with the way we performed as a team. We now have two games to go (to win the title)."
Bangladesh, looking to improve on a record which had seen them beat India just three times while losing on 24 occasions, were on top in the early stages.
Shikhar Dhawan, who had 337 runs going into the game at an average of 56.16, was stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim for 30 while Virat Kohli (301 at 75.25 for the tournament prior to this match) was caught behind for three off Hossain to leave India 79 for two.
When Ajinkya Rahane (19) was third man out with the score on 115, Bangladesh were on top but they eventually lost their way and conceded 147 runs off the last 15 overs.
Four-time champions Australia face 1992 winners Pakistan on Friday with the Asian side missing giant fast bowler Mohammad Irfan who has been ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a stress fracture of the pelvis.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, who could be playing his final ODI if his team lose, said they looked forward to being the underdogs.
"They (Australia) are favourites but there is no hard-and-fast rule that favourites are always going to win the match," said the 40-year-old captain.
"It's which team performs better on the day, takes their chances and have some luck, they can really defeat any team."
The West Indies are confident star opener Chris Gayle, who has been laid low by a back injury, will be for Saturday's quarter-final against New Zealand.
New Zealand all-rounder, the South African-born Grant Elliott, said his heritage would have no bearing on how he would feel if New Zealand do face AB de Villiers' team for a place in the final.
"I'll just approach it as I would any other game. Our squad is here to try and win the World Cup, as is every other team."
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