Dambulla: India’s quest for the Asia Cup got off to a perfect start with the title contenders steamrolling Bangladesh by six wickets in a lop-sided cricket match and also pocketing a bonus point here on Wednesday.
Virender Sehwag emerged as India’s unlikely bowling hero with his first four-wicket haul, while his Delhi teammate Gautam Gambhir (82) struck his 20th ODI half-century as India cruised to a facile win at a strikingly empty Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.
Having skittled out Bangladesh for a meagre 167 inside 35 overs, India had a modest total to chase and they overwhelmed the target with 19.2 overs to spare to collect a bonus point from this resounding victory.
The Indians will have to beat either Pakistan (June 19) or defending champions Sri Lanka (June 22) by a convincing margin to qualify for the June 24 final.
India injected artificial life into the lop-sided match when Virat Kohli (11) and Rohit Sharma (0) fell to successive deliveries from Shakib Al Hasan in the 15th over.
However, Gautam Gambhir (82), who enjoyed a reprieve at 48 off Shafiul Islam, and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (38 not out) ensured that four-time champions sailed home without much ado.
Sehwag (11 off 14 balls) failed to fire as a batsman on his return to international from injury but amply showed that he could be employed as an off-break bowler when either Harbhajan Singh or Ravindra Jadeja have a lean day.
Given the ball as Dhoni desperately needed a part-time bowler to cover up for an injured Ashish Nehra (2 for 28), Sehwag struck successive blows to decimate a listless Bangladesh.
He had Mushfiqur Rahim caught behind by Dhoni before picking up the scalps of Suhrawadi Shuvo, Shafiul Islam and Syed Rasel. His brilliant figures read 2.5-0-6-4.