Pakistan surprised the whole world by defeating the favourites, England in the first semi-final of Champions Trophy (CT) 2017. With a spot up for grabs in the final, India contested Bangladesh in Birmingham. Winning the toss, Virat Kohli elected to field first on a day where the clouds were playing hide and seek. Both teams remained unchanged as play began 10 minutes late due to a slight drizzle.
India were off to a perfect start as Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck in the first over. Soumya Sarkar could not get off the mark as he chopped the ball back to his stumps. Sabbir Rahman, the next batsman, took advantage of the fielding restrictions and counter-attacked. In the first 9 balls, he had already hit 3 fours. After 5 overs, Bangladesh were 31/1, Tamim playing a quite innings at the other end. But Sabbir departed soon, playing a loose shot as Ravindra Jadeja made no mistake at backward point. Bhuvneshwar dismissed the batsman for 19.
But then it was the Tamim Iqbal and Musfiqur Rahim show as both batsmen played with a cool head. Rahim struck Bhuvneshwar for three consecutive fours in the 9th over to give them the added push after settling down. After 10 overs, they were sailing smoothly at 46/2. Kohli then brought Ashwin, Hardik and Jadeja in order to break the partnership but the experienced duo played the balls on their merit and continued to score runs. Hardik had got Tamim’s wicket off a no-ball which frustrated the team more & gave him the a second opportunity.
Tamim reached to his fifty in the 19th over as he continued his prime form in CT 2017. These two have played long innings against India and it was important to break this partnership as they were scoring at a run rate of 5.25. Tamim continued with his shots as he struck three consecutive fours off Ashwin's bowling. Meanwhile, Rahim too, reached to his fifty. Things started to look difficult for India but then Kohli introduced part-time, Kedar Jadhav into the attack. The move worked as he removed the well-settled Tamim for 70, breaking the 123-run partnership.
But in came another experienced campaigner, Shakib Al Hasan, as Bangladesh looked to continue their flow of runs. Kohli continued with the spin trio of Ashwin, Jadeja and Jadhav as they bowled the overs quickly and kept the runs in check as well. India got their fourth wicket and it was the big one in the form of Shakib. He made 15 off 23 balls. Bangladesh suffered another blow the well-set Rahim was dismissed for 61. Jadhav took his second wicket of the day with a low full toss delivery as the scoreboard read 179/5 after 35.2 overs. After a good phase, Bangladesh were stuttering a bit.
Mosaddek Hossain and Mahmudullah then played sensibly and added on some important runs thereafter. Mahmudullah got a lifeline as Ashwin dropped him at third man as he carried on to anchor the innings. After adding 34 runs together, Mosaddek finally departed after Bumrah took a simple catch off his own bowling. At the end of 43 overs, Bangladesh were 215/6. Mahmudullah was the next to follow as he was dismissed with a perfect Yorker by none other than, Jasprit Bumrah.
Bangladesh captain, Mashrafe Mortaza, then came to their rescue as he smashed some important boundaries in the last five overs. He remained unbeaten on 30 in 25 balls as Bangladesh ended on 264/7 in their 50 overs. Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah and Kedar took 2 wickets each as Tamim (70) top-scored for them.
With a challenging total of 265 to chase, Team India openers, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma came to the crease. Dhawan wasted no time to express himself as he struck Mustafizur Rahman for two fours in the second over itself. It was time for Rohit then, as he hit the same bowler for three fours in the fourth over. After 5 overs, India were off to decent start & were 31/0. Fours were coming regularly of the bat from the Indian openers as they did not let the run rate increase. Dhawan was the more aggressive of the two as he continued with his form. India reached to their team fifty in the 8th over.
It was one way traffic for India as Mashrafe Mortaza failed to create any panic in the mind of the openers. India were scoring without taking too many risks. The captain finally struck as he removed Dhawan for 46 & ended another fine partnership between Rohit Sharma & Shikhar Dhawan for 87. In came Indian captain, Virat Kohli, who then along with Rohit continued the aggressive and positive batting. Kohli took his time early on as Mashrafe brought Rubel Hossain. But Kohli did not fall to the plan and played a brilliant innings.
Rohit, at the other end, brought up his 3rd fifty in the tournament as he continued with his shots. Kohli accelerated at the end as well as it was all easy in the middle overs. Mortaza tried everything but to no avail. At the halfway stage, India were 164/1. Kohli soon reached to his fifty with a superb pull to bring up his 3rd fifty of the tournamentt as well. Rohit was moving along nicely for another century by scoring runs at a brisk rate.
It looked a stroll in the park for both batsmen as Rohit brought his 11th ODI century with a six & his 2nd in ICC tournaments against the same opponents. India were racing towards the victory, fast. At the end of 35 overs, India were 224/1 needing another 41 runs in 15 overs. Bangladesh could not stop the flow of fours as the prospect of an India-Pakistan final started looking strong. Mortaza introduced Rahman to take a wicket but the duo did not give any opportunity.
Kohli, meanwhile, continued his tremendous ODI record and became the fastest to reach 8000 ODI runs in 175 innings. He broke AB’s record of 182 innings. Kohli rightly known as the master of chases finished off things for India with a four off Sabbir Rahman to setup a final against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy. India chased down the target in 40.1 overs. Kohli remained unbeaten on 96 with Rohit on 123.
The latter rightly got the Man of the Match award for his innings. The final of Champions Trophy 2017 will be played between defending champions, India & Pakistan on 18th June at The Oval. This is India's tenth appearance in ICC events finals, the joint most for a team along with Australia.