Virender Sehwag predicted India’s World Cup campaign will go far after his rollicking century helped demolish Bangladesh by 87 runs in the tournament opener.
Sehwag plundered 175 off 140 balls and young Virat Kohli hit an unbeaten 100 as India piled up 370-4, the fifth highest World Cup total, after being given first strike on Saturday.
Bangladesh were restricted to 283-9 in the high-scoring game at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla stadium, helping India avenge the five-wicket defeat in the previous tournament in the Caribbean in 2007.
Sehwag said the emphatic victory, which followed two impressive wins over reigning champions Australia and New Zealand in warm-up matches last week, had given India the necessary momentum.
“It is so important to have momentum going your way,” the aggressive opener said. “If you don’t have it, you tend to lose matches a lot more.
“We have been very consistent in the three games we have played so far and this will help us play better as the tournament goes on. It’s been really good so far.”
Sehwag, 32, 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 Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan 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 said he was delighted to bat for 47 overs for the first time in his one-day career, but still nursed ambitions of carrying his bat through the innings in upcoming games.
It’s a warning that is bound to send shivers down the spine of rival bowlers.
Sehwag smashed 14 boundaries and five sixes in his 14th one-day century, hitting the tournament’s first delivery from Shafiul Islam to the cover boundary.
The Delhi opener said emulating Tendulkar’s feat of making 200 had never crossed his mind, saying he was more concerned about contributing to the team’s cause.
“When I came back (to the dressing room), three overs were left, and I still had 25 to get,” said Sehwag. “I would have had to play 15 out of those 18 balls, so I wasn’t thinking of the double-hundred.
“My target was to bat 50 overs, no matter how much I score.”
Sehwag, who speaks as freely as he bats, admitted he had a special motivation to win Saturday’s game after the loss to Bangladesh in 2007.
“No team likes to lose, and neither do we. So this was a very important game for us,” he said. “Everyone did well, other than Sreesanth.”
Fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, a late replacement in the squad for the injured Praven Kumar, was hammered for 53 runs in his five overs, including 24 in his forgettable third over.
The lone blemish during Sehwag’s knock was the amateurish run out of Tendulkar after the opening pair had put on 69 by the 11th over.
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.
Sehwag said the master batsman had taken the dismissal in his stride.
“He was calling, and I was not listening, and I was looking at the ball,” he said.
“But when I went to the dressing room, he said: ‘It’s okay. What’s important is to win the game for the country. It’s not important who is performing.’“
India take on England in their next game in Bangalore on February 27.
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