Cricket World Cup 2019

When Sharma is on song, India are on track

India's Rohit Sharma and Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim watching a shot during their match at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Tuesday. Sharma scored 104 in India's 28-run victory. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
India's Rohit Sharma and Bangladesh wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim watching a shot during their match at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Tuesday. Sharma scored 104 in India's 28-run victory. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • India captain Virat Kohli hailed Rohit Sharma as the "best one-day player around" after the opener's fourth century of the tournament saw the side book their place in the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup with a 28-run win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston.

Sharma's attacking 104 laid the foundation of India's 314 for nine after Kohli elected to bat first in India's penultimate match of the league phase on Tuesday.

Yet, for the second match in a row Sharma - as happened during India's 31-run defeat by England at Edgbaston on Sunday - was dropped in single figures before making a hundred.

India's bowlers then combined to dismiss Bangladesh for 286 despite a valiant 66 from star batsman Shakib Al Hasan. Jasprit Bumrah took four wickets and fellow paceman Hardik Pandya three, including the prize scalp of Shakib.

Kohli may be widely regarded as the best current batsman in all forms of the game but the skipper was unstinting in his praise of Sharma.

"In my opinion he is the best one-day player around, he is having the tournament of his life and when he plays well, everyone has so much confidence," said Kohli.

"When he plays well we know we are heading for a big score. He gives everyone confidence to go out and bat. We had to work hard for the win and we are happy to see a 'Q' (qualified) in front of our name now."

  • 4

  • Centuries scored by India batsman Rohit Sharma in one World Cup, the second player after Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara did it in 2015.

Sharma took his overall tally of World Cup hundreds to five, second only behind batting great Sachin Tendulkar, who hit six centuries in as many tournaments.

He is also the second player after Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara in 2015 to register four tons in one World Cup.

The attacking opener, who led his Indian Premier League side Mumbai Indians to their fourth title in May, is now the tournament's leading run-scorer with 544 runs in seven matches at an eye-watering average of more than 90.

Kohli has admitted more than once that he does not have the repertoire of strokes of Sharma, whose elegance combined with his hunger for runs makes him such a compelling batsman to watch.

Sharma, who started his World Cup campaign strongly against South Africa with a battling 122 not out on a tough batting wicket, says he has learned to curb his instincts and finishing off a game gives him "immense satisfaction".

The India vice-captain explained his approach after scoring a century in a lost cause against England.

"Every game for me is a new game, and I try and do the same, try and see if I have the portion to finish the game or bat as long as possible and get the team in a good position, things like that," he said.

Defeat ended Bangladesh's hopes of a place in the last four after they had impressed during wins over South Africa and the West Indies.

"It was a good effort - Mustafizur (Rahman) bowled well," said Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.

"But if one of the batsmen could have got to 80 or 90, it might have been different. We were asking too much in the end."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 04, 2019, with the headline 'When Sharma is on song, India are on track'. Print Edition | Subscribe