Sai Kishore starred in India’s thumping nine-wicket win over Bangladesh in the Asian Games men’s cricket semifinal here at the Pingfeng Cricket Campus on Friday.
After the women’s team won a maiden gold last week, Ruturaj Gaikwad and his men now have the chance to complete the set on Saturday in the final.
With light showers early in the morning and under overcast conditions, Gaikwad won the toss and put Bangladesh into bat. But despite the cloud cover, it was spin which was going to have a major say at the venue which has been used 24 times since the start of the Asiad across two surfaces. And it was evident in India’s selection when it gave a debut cap to Shahbaz Ahmed in place of pacer Avesh Khan.
But more than India’s threat from spin, most of the Bangladeshi batters’ woes, however, were self-inflicted with their poor shot selection and application.
After three overs of pace in the powerplay, Gaikwad turned to Washington Sundar and Sai Kishore, with the latter providing the breakthrough.
Sai (4-0-12-3) had three spells across the innings with one in the powerplay, two in the middle overs and one at the death. The left-arm spinner gave air early on before varying his lengths in his latter spells. In his opening over, Mahmudul Hasan Joy played across the line to a tossed-up delivery while looking to go over long on but could only toe-edge it to Yashasvi Jaiswal at mid on.
Washington, who mixed up his pace in the powerplay, then picked up two in the next over. Skipper Saif Hassan’s attempt to paddle a faster delivery took a top edge to deep backward square leg. Two balls later, Zakir Hasan’s hoick took an edge through to Jaiswal at slip as Bangladesh was rocked early at 21/3 after six overs.
Parvez Hossain Emon (23 off 32 balls), the only batter who seemed to look in control until then, also perished looking to slog Tilak Varma over deep midwicket but ended up skying a catch to Gaikwad, who ran behind from extra cover to complete the catch.
In his second spell, Sai accounted for the wickets of Shahadat Hossain and Afif Hossain in back-to-back overs. Shahadat closed his bat face early to a ball pitched up into the surface and got an edge through to Tilak at backward point and Afif miscued a full delivery to Shivam Dube at short third.
Ravi Bishnoi then got in the act with the wicket of Mrittunjoy Chowdhury, while Shahbaz got the better of Rakibul Hasan after the tail-ender scored a 6-ball 14. Hasan had hit Shahbaz for a six down the ground and rocked back to punch a short delivery to the cover boundary but he perished after being drawn out by Shahbaz to clear the long on boundary again.
Wicketkeeper batter Jaker Ali (24* off 29) played himself in but he didn’t have any support around him through the middle and death overs. He struck a six off Bishnoi and finished as Bangladesh finished on 96/9 after 20 overs.
At the restart, Ripon Mondol’s pace caused Jaiswal some trouble and the southpaw, who scored a 49-ball 100 against Nepal on Tuesday, flicked a full delivery straight to the shot third fielder to fall for a four-ball duck. But any hopes of a Bangladesh fightback were dashed immediately by Ruturaj (40 off 26) and Tilak (55 off 26), who raced off the blocks in no time.
Ruturaj hit a sublime square cut of his first ball from Mondol and then took him apart in his next over when he pummelled him for 21 runs. He pulled over the deep midwicket boundaries for a couple of sixes before driving between the cover and mid-off region for two fours.
Tilak was severe against the spinners Mrittunjoy Chowdhury and Rakibul Hasan as he made the most of the short boundaries towards the mountainside to hit three sixes.
By the end of the powerplay, India had put the result beyond doubt by racking up 68 runs on the board. Tilak reached his fifty off 25 balls with his sixth maximum to his favoured side of the ground before Gaikwad saw India over the line with 64 balls to spare.