London, June 07: Yuvraj Singh dazzled with the bat before Pragyan Ojha spun a web around Bangladesh as India thumped the minnows by 25 runs to begin their title defence with a bang in the Twenty20 World Cup on Saturday.
Ojha’s four-wicket haul in his maiden Twenty20 International broke Bangladesh’s back as the minnows finished at 155 for eight, a total they owe to Junaid Siddique (41) and Naeem Islam (28).
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir (50) and Rohit Sharma (36) gave India a rollicking start but it was Yuvraj’s violent 18-ball 41 that propelled them to 180 for five in the Group A opener.
Chasing 181, Bangladesh began on a positive note with Tamim Iqbal (15) hitting Zaheer Khan for two successive fours and Junaid (41 off 22 balls) pulling Irfan Pathan for a six.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduced Yusuf Pathan and it paid off as the duo collaborated to get Tamim stumped in the third over.
Junaid looked unperturbed as he scored at a brisk rate, hitting sixes off the Pathan brothers — Yusuf and Irfan — and Harbhajan Singh.
Unfortunately, wickets kept tumbling at the other end. Mohammad Ashraful (11) fell to Ishant Sharma and then Pragyan Ojha struck twice in his first over to unhinge Bangladesh.
Shakib Al Hasan (8) top edged Ojha’s first delivery to Dhoni and then Junaid holed out in the deep as Bangladesh slumped to 77 for four.
Yuvraj took a stunner to remove Mahmudullah (8) and by then, the writing was clear on the wall for Bangladesh and their defeat was just a matter of time.
Earlier, Bangladesh groaned under the late assault by the Indians who finished with 180 for five.
Sixes rained off the Indian bats in the final four overs as the defending champions looted 59 runs from the final four overs.
Yuvraj was in the thick of it, repeatedly smashing sixes in his favoured midwicket zone and finishing with 41 from 18 balls with three fours and four sixes.
The Indians apparently played to a plan with opener Gautam Gambhir holding one end up (50 off 44 balls), Rohit Sharma (36 off 23 balls) leading the carnage, Dhoni (26) staying put and then the late assault by Yuvraj, propelling India to its eventual score.
With Virender Sehwag nursing an injured shoulder, Rohit walked out along with Gambhir and played with the gay abandon that has become his wont.
The Bangla pacers soon discovered that enthusiasm alone was not enough to silence the swashbuckling Indian openers who scored almost at will.
To make it worse for them, lady luck too smiled on India as they reached 50 in no time, vindicating Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s decision to bat first.
In an eventful fourth over from Shahadat Hossain, Raqibul Hasan dropped Gambhir at point and then Rohit’s flick brushed an airborne Mashrafe Mortaza’s finger before clearing the ropes.
Soon came the shot that has become Rohit’s trademark and class was written all over it when Rohit smote Rubel Hossain over midwicket for a soaring six.
Shakib Al Hasan almost had Rohit with his first delivery but Mushfiqur Rahim fluffed an easy stumping opportunity. The left-arm spinner got his man with the next one that got the better of Rohit’s defence.
Dhoni stepped into the middle and looked to consolidate and so did it appear to be Gambhir’s intention. The progress was slow and at 121 for two in the 16th over, it seemed as if India had left the charge too late in the day.
But Yuvraj showed his team knew exactly what it was doing.
Off-spinner Naeem Islam bore the brunt of his assault, going for three sixes in mid-wicket region and conceding 19 runs in the over.
Medium-pacer Rubel Hossain too was caught up in the firing in the next, going for 15 as Yuvraj hit a six and two fours in succession.
The elegant left-hander eventually fell in the 19th over to Shakib but India carried on in the same vein, crossing the 175-mark.