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Sehwag silences Bangladesh

DHAKA, February 19- Virender Sehwag plundered 175 off 140 balls and rising star Virat Kohli hit an unbeaten 100 as India overpowered Bangladesh by 87 runs in the opening match of the World Cup on Saturday.

The pair added 203 for the third wicket as India piled up 370-4, the fifth highest World Cup total, after being given first strike by Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan in the day-night match at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

Bangladesh made a spirited chase of the daunting target before ending at 283-9 with opener Tamim Iqbal making 70 and Shakib playing a captain’s knock of 55 off 50 balls in the Group B match.

Munaf Patel picked up four wickets and Zaheer Khan took two, but the Bangladeshi batsmen exposed the limitations of the Indian attack in containing runs on slow wickets.

The result silenced a sell-out stadium crowd of 25,000 and thousands of home fans watching on television, who had expected Bangladesh to repeat the famous win over India in the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean.

Despite the win, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said there was still work to be done ahead of their next match against England in Bangalore on February 27.

"In the fielding, we need to contribute more and save around 10 runs," said Dhoni, who praised Sehwag and Kohli.

"When you have lost a couple of wickets, you need to stabilise, and it was nice to see Sehwag and Kohli do that."

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Shakib admitted that loose bowling early in the India innings had cost his side.

"We bowled too many boundary balls. Sehwag took it away, he played really well. Our fast bowlers were a bit rusty, hopefully they will come back well," he said.

Sehwag narrowly missed his pre-tournament aim to bat out the full 50 overs, just as his team-mate Sachin Tendulkar had done last year while scoring the first-ever 200 in one-day cricket.

He was bowled by Shakib in the 48th over soon after equalling former Indian skipper Kapil Dev’s score of 175 not out against Zimbabwe during the World Cup winning campaign in 1983.

Sehwag lashed 14 boundaries and five sixes in his 14th one-day century.

Sehwag hit the first ball of the tournament for a four, rocking on the backfoot to punch Shafiul Islam to the cover fence, before reaching his half-century with a six.

Sehwag and Tendulkar hammered 69 for the first wicket by the 11th over when Bangladesh broke through with a stroke of luck.

Tendulkar drove a ball to mid-on and charged down the wicket, but found no response from the other end to leave both batsmen at the non-striker’s end.

Shakib’s direct throw to the wicket-keeper ended the world batting record holder’s innings of 28.

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Gautam Gambhir continued the run spree by adding 83 for the second wicket with Sehwag before he was bowled off Mohammad Mahmudullah’s second delivery for 39.

Sehwag had scored half the team runs when he reached his first one-day century against Bangladesh in the 32nd over, adjusting his strokeplay on a wicket where the ball came slowly off the wicket.

Kohli took over after Sehwag suffered a leg injury and called for a runner in the 38th over, stroking eight boundaries and two sixes in his maiden Cup appearance.

Bangladesh raced to 51-0 in the first five overs as seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth conceded 24 in his third over, including four boundaries by Imrul Kayes (34).

Tamim, who put on 56 for the first wicket with Kayes, added another 73 for the second with Junaid Siddique to lift Bangladesh to 129-1 by the 24th over.

After Siddique was stumped off Harbhajan Singh, Tamim and Shakib added 59 for the third wicket when Patel ended the opener’s resistence by having him caught at mid-wicket.

Shakib holed out in the deep off Yusuf Pathan in a bid to step up the scoring, ending Bangladesh’s bid to force an improbable win.

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