Updated June 1st, 2024 at 23:56 IST

Pant, Pandya lead India's 60-run win over Bangladesh in T20 WC warm-up match

India faced little trouble in defending the total as left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh found his bowling wares, leading the restriction of Bangladesh to 122 for nine.

Rishabh Pant | Image:Star Sports
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India ticked multiple boxes during their 60-run victory over Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup warm-up match here on Saturday, but none bolder than a fifty by Rishabh Pant which has all but sealed his place as the first-choice wicketkeeper batter in the ICC showpiece.

Pant’s 53 (32b, 4x4, 4x6), who was making his India comeback after that horrific car accident in December 2022, and Hardik Pandya’s equally pleasing (40 not out, 23b, 2x4, 4x6) led India to a competitive 182 for five after opting to bat first.

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India faced little trouble in defending the total as left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh found his bowling wares, leading the restriction of Bangladesh to 122 for nine.

There was a token fightback from Mahmudullah Riyaz (40 retired out; 28b, 4x4, 1x6) and Shakib Al Hasan (28), who milked 75 runs for the sixth-wicket.

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But it helped Bangladesh only to reduce the margin of defeat after they were reduced to 41 for five.

Arshdeep, who had a less than satisfactory outing in the IPL for Punjab Kings, struck twice inside the Power Play, ousting Soumya Sarkar, caught behind by Pant, and Litton Das, who was bowled by a lovely in-curler from over the wicket.

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Fellow pacer Mohammed Siraj added the wicket of Bangladesh skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto (0) as they slipped to 10 for three in 3.5 overs, and it was too deep a hole to claw back against a competent bowling unit, which has good variety through the ranks.

The Indian bowlers also showed excellent skills to exploit a slow pitch which was also aided by an equally sluggish outfield where the ball did not roll along. Pacer Shivam Dube also chipped in with two wickets (2/11).

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For Bangladesh, the defeat was a continuation of their gloomy build-up to the World Cup as they had recently lost the three-match T20I series against the USA 1-2.

The insipid batting effort by Bangladesh also provided a better perspective to the innings of Pant and Pandya earlier.

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It was their gumption that led India to an above-par score on a slow pitch, and something that will come very handy once India embrace the tournament proper from June 5 with a match against Ireland at this venue.

Pant retired after making 53 but not before nullifying a plethora of Bangladeshi slow bowlers.

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But the knock has certainly given him an edge over Sanju Samson in the perceived competition for the wicketkeeper-batter slot.

Samson came in as opener ahead of Yashasvi Jaiswal along with skipper Rohit Sharma (23, 19b, 2x4, 1x6) as Virat Kohli, who was expected to open, skipped the match after he arrived here only on Friday.

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However, Samson, who had a fine run in the IPL for Rajasthan Royals, was trapped in front of the wicket for a 6-ball 1 by left-arm pacer Shoriful Islam as he struggled to come to terms with the nature of the track.

There were also handy contributions by Suryakumar Yadav (31, 18b, 4x4) and Pandya (40) as India moved to a competitive total despite not having any single big partnership in their innings.

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But the primary architect of that fighting total was Pant.

Pant, who returned to competitive cricket during the IPL 2024, had shown excellent touch for Delhi Capitals while making 287 runs from 13 matches with three fifties and at a strike-rate of 155.

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The left-hander continued his fine touch here too, carting Bangladesh bowlers around.

There were those typical Pant shots, which are hard to describe, such as a stand-still flick off medium-pacer Soumya to fine-leg for a boundary or that one-handed six while he was out of balance off off-spinner Mahmudullah Riyadh.

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Pant, who smashed Shakib Al Hasan for two successive sixes, brought his fifty in 32 balls with a boundary off Shakib before retiring to the pavilion.

Dube, who was dropped on four, could not exploit the let-off and was dismissed for a 16-ball 14 and at that stage India were 130 for four after 14.4 overs.

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India were in need of some acceleration and Pandya provided just that.

Pandya, who was dropped on 26, slammed three consecutive sixes off left-arm spinner Tanvir Islam which were a treat to watch for their power and neat execution.

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His innings and confidence might have immensely pleased the team management and himself after a modest outing as Mumbai Indians’ captain in a season where he was subjected to intense professional and personal scrutiny.

Bangladesh also suffered an injury scare as Shoriful walked off just before bowling the final ball of the innings, as Tanzim Hasan completed the over.

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Published June 1st, 2024 at 23:56 IST