India booked their place in the Nidahas T20 tri-series final by beating Bangladesh by 17 runs in Colombo on Wednesday. Captain Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Washington Sundar were the architects of the win that saw the Indian team, defending 176/3, restrict the Tigers to 159/6 for a third win in four matches.
Bangladesh's Musfiqur Rahim (72* off 55 balls) kept his team in the hunt but the Indian total proved too big on a terribly low and slow pitch at the R Premadasa Stadium, and they fell fairly short of the target. The Tigers now will have to beat Sri Lanka handsomely on Friday to make another date with their powerful neighbours in the final on Sunday.
Sundar turned out to be a thorn in Bangladesh's flesh, and do what they would, they found it difficult to deal with his offspinners and consequently he finished with an impressive 3/22. Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal and Mohammed Siraj, who came in place of Jaydev Unadkat, took a wicket apiece.
Earlier in the day after Mahmudullah put India into bat, openers Rohit and Shikar Dhawan found it tough to get going on a sluggish pitch.
In light of the nature of the wicket, both batsmen dropped anchor a little and chose to play the ball on its merit. The result was a painstaking 70-run opening stand in 9.5 overs.
Dhawan was not as fluent as he was in the previous matches and despite a Liton Das reprieve can't go beyond 35 runs off 27 balls as Rubel Hossain bowled him with a brilliant yorker.
Raina joined Rohit and he too struggled. Shortly after a new strategy was in place: both batsmen decided to go aerial in the hope they will execute their shots well. And boy did it work.
India scored 105 runs in the last 10 overs with Rohit and Raina hitting six sixes together, with the former hitting four and the latter two. In all, Rohit hit five sixes.
The 18th over bowled by Abu Hider Rony, who had replaced Taskin Ahmed in this match, yielded 21 runs thanks to three sixes, and with that the Indian innings got the boost it so desperately needed.
After adding 102 runs off 56 balls for the second wicket, both Rohit (89 off 61 balls) and Raina (47 off 30 balls) departed in the last over but by that time they had done a terrific job on a difficult wicket, giving the Indian bowlers enough to defend.
The Bangladeshi cricket team may have lost the match but won many hearts with a moving gesture as their players sported black armbands to honour the memory of the 49 passengers who died in a plane crash at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport in Nepal on Monday.