Cardiff: KL Rahul became a strong claimant for the second-down (no. 4 batsman) slot while Mahendra Singh Dhoni played some breathtaking strokes in their twin hundreds propelling India to 359/7 against Bangladesh in a World Cup warm-up game on Tuesday.
After another dull show from the openers, Rahul (108 off 99 balls) and Dhoni (113 off 78 balls) counter-attacked a potent Bangladesh bowling line-up, which had reduced India to 102/4 in 22 overs in their final tune-up.
Rahul and Dhoni added 164 runs with their contrasting approaches, which yielded favourable results for the title contenders. Dhoni used the platform created by Rahul to launch a brutal assault in the final overs to take the score past 350.
While Shikhar Dhawan (5) was back in the hut after being adjudged plumb in-front by Mustafizur Rahaman, Rohit Sharma (19 off 42 balls) struggled for the better part of his stay, even as skipper Virat Kohli (47 off 46 balls) looked solid at the other end.
Rahul looked solid from the beginning and found the gaps with ease, hitting 12 boundaries and four sixes. Dhoni’s innings had eight boundaries and as many as seven sixes.
With the composed Dhoni dealing with the singles and the occasional boundary, Rahul was in his flowing self during his stay at the crease.
However, after the first 25 balls in which Dhoni scored 24, he suddenly changed gears, attacking young off-spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraj and Bangladesh was left ducking for cover.
Rahul started with a cut off Abu Jayed followed by an off-drive. Jayed repeatedly provided him width and he beat the off-side cordon with ease.
When Shakib Al Hasan bowled short, he was dispatched over the mid-wicket fence for a maximum.
The rusty Shakib (2/58 in 6 overs) was taken to the task by both Rahul and Dhoni, who got easy runs off the world’s No. 1 ranked all-rounder. Rahul hit Mustafizur (1/43 in 8 overs) for two sixes over the square leg before being dismissed by Sabbir Rahaman’s part-time spin in the 44th over.
Dhoni then took over and the last overs produced 91 runs with the veteran taking Rubel Hossain (2/62 in 8 overs) to the task in the 45th and 47th overs, scoring 25 runs. In between, the 46th over from Sabbir fetched India 15 runs. His century came with a signature Dhoni six — a down the ground shot off a length delivery from Jayed.