Tuesday, March 20, 2007

India rocks

India's Virender Sehwag celebrates after
completing his century during their World Cup cricket match against Bermuda in Port of Spain March 19, 2007. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

now India rocks with MORE RECORDS...i.e.in world cup2007
Port of Spain (Trinidad), March 20 (IANS) A scorching form-finding eighth century from Virender Sehwag was the highlight of India's world-record 257-run win over minnows Bermuda in an important Group B World Cup encounter here Monday.

Propelled by Sehwag's stroke-filled 114 and sparkling half-centuries from Sourav Ganguly (89), Yuvraj Singh (83) and Sachin Tendulkar, India posted 413 for five wickets in 50 overs - their all-time highest, top score of the World Cup history and fourth highest in all ODI cricket.

Later, pacer Ajit Agarkar and leg-spinner Anil Kumble took three wickets each to shut first-timers Bermuda out for 156 in 43.1 overs to help India register the biggest ever victory in terms of runs - and earn their first two points.

Experienced David Hemp remained unbeaten on 76 - the lone highlight of the Bermuda innings at Queen's Park Oval.

The previous biggest victory margin in the World Cup as well as in one-day cricket history was Australia's 256-run verdict against minnows Namibia during the World Cup in Potchefstroom Feb 27, 2003.

Sehwag, who cracked his first ODI century in 59 innings or almost two years, was adjudged the Man of the Match for his 87-ball knock (17x4s, 3x6s).

India needed to beat Bermuda by a big margin to stay in contention for a place in the second round, Super Eight, and improve their run rate, which could come into play if two or more teams finish with the same number of points.

India's third and final group match is against Sri Lanka Friday here.

Rahul Dravid's team, asked to bat first after Bermuda captain Irving Romaine won the toss, did both tasks admirably. Besides, they made the first 400-plus total in the World Cup history, hitting 30 boundaries and 18 sixes collectively.

Batting at No. 3, Sehwag went hammer and tongs and rubbed off his form on all specialist batsmen, barring Robin Uthappa (3), as India broke a host of records at the cost of a team that had qualified from the ICC Trophy in 2005.

After Sehwag, Ganguly (89, 114 balls, 6x4s, 2x6s), Yuvraj (83, 46 balls, 3x4s, 7x6s) and Tendulkar (57 not out, 29 balls, 2x4s, 4x6s) played in a manner like they were teaching school kids a lesson in batsmanship.

Along the way, India, playing their 645th match, registered their best ever total, which was also their best in World Cup competition.

Their best in all ODIs was 376 for two in 50 overs against New Zealand in Hyderabad Nov 11, 1999. Monday's total was the fourth highest total in the ODI history and it came in the 2,542nd match.

India's previous Cup highest was 373 for six in 50 overs against Sri Lanka at Taunton, England, in 1999, while the World Cup record was held by Sri Lanka, who had scored 398 for five in 50 overs against Kenya in Kandy in 1996.

The world record is 443 for nine in 50 overs by Sri Lanka against the Netherlands at Amstelveen July 5 last year.

There were several positives for India from the match, but the most heartening for millions of fans was the return to form of swashbuckling Sehwag, who had not scored a half-century in seven innings.

Not only did the Delhi batsman roared back into form after initial tentativeness, but he also got the runs in typical rapid-fire manner. He reached his 24th half-century off just 43 balls and contained 11x4s, or 44 runs through boundaries.

His second half-century was a shade quicker (off 38 balls) than the first one, which meant that he completed his century off 81 balls (14x4s, 3x6s, strike rate 123.45).

The 28-year-old was finally out as the second wicket - Uthappa was the first to go -- when he mistimed a shot off Kevin Hurdle and Malachi Jones accepted the catch. The bulk of his runs came between the third man and cover region even as he tried to play straight most times.

Sehwag, who meditated during the innings by taking deep breaths, scored at a strike rate of a brilliant 131.00. With this knock, he took his career aggregate to 4,949 in 169 matches. He has also hit 24 half-centuries. His overall strike rate now is a fabulous 96.56.

He was out when at 205 and the team headed towards a mammoth total. Sehwag and Ganguly added 202 runs for the second wicket after the bulky Dwayne Leverock took a stunning catch at the wide lone slip to dismiss Uthappa off Malachi Jones.

Ganguly was still occupying the other end in his new role as the sheet anchor. The left-hander stepped up the scoring rate after the arrival of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was promoted to No. 4 to maintain the tempo.

Ganguly duly completed his second successive half-century, following his 66 against Bangladesh, before impetuosity got the better of him and he was stumped by Dean Minors off Delyone Borden.

Dhoni played a cameo of 29 off 25 balls, hitting two boundaries and one six.

It was the clean hard hitting from Yuvraj and Tendulkar that set the sparsely filled stands ablaze, giving a reason for Indian supporters to shout about. They added 122 runs for the fifth wicket.

Yuvraj was severe on the leg side as he repeatedly went down on his knees to sweep or loft the ball in midwicket region. Most of his seven sixes came on the onside.

Tendulkar, in contrast, chose to play mostly in the long off region. He also lofted his sixes in that area as he extended his fine form, barring the aberration against Bangladesh.

Tendulkar and Dravid (7, 2 balls, 1x6) remained unbeaten.

Under the huge burden, the Bermuda batsmen crumbled as expected. Five of them failed to score and only three reached the double figures.

Seasoned campaigner Hemp (105 balls, 9x4s, 1x6) showed the gains from his English county stint. Minors chipped in with 21 (36 balls, 3x4s, 1x6) and Delyone Borden made 13 off 38 balls (1x4).

The only consolation for Bermuda was that they unexpectedly batted as long many 43.1 overs.

Left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan took two wickets, both coming at the start of the innings, while Munaf Patel and Tendulkar bagged one each. Sehwag bowled five fine overs but he was the only one not to take a wicket.

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