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Indian batsmen get into WC groove

Associated Press
Feb 20, 2011 at 04:55pm IST

Dhaka: India's batsmen have lived up to the World Cup hype against Bangladesh in the opening match, leaving only slight question marks over the team's bowling attack and whether the tournament favorite might peak too soon.

The first test may well be its match against World Twenty20 holders England next on Sunday.

The performance on Saturday against Bangladesh will add to the expectations among India's 1.2 billion people that their team will win its second World Cup when the final is played in Mumbai on April 2.

Indian batsmen get into WC groove

The performance against Bangladesh will add to the expectations among India's 1.2 billion people.

While other top batsmen waiting for their first matches may have taken heart from the Bangladeshi pitch, Virender Sehwag's mighty 175 and Virat Kohli's 100 not out on the way to a 370 total were a clear warning to India's title rivals.

Sehwag dominated from the first ball of the innings and was still there 47 overs later, striking 14 fours and five sixes, silencing a 28,000 home crowd and all but dashing Bangladesh's hopes of victory before its batsman took the crease.

"I was happy that at least once in my career I have batted 47 overs," he said. "I was planning to bat 50 overs. I couldn't do that, so hopefully I will do in coming games."

Sachin Tendulkar, who is aiming to cap his magnificent career with an elusive World Cup title, made 28 before he was run out after a mix up with Sehwag.

Asked whether he felt bad for his role in running out the world's highest-scoring batsman and a national idol, he said: "He was calling, and I was not listening, and I was looking at the ball.

"For a fraction of a second I thought I had made a mistake, but you know when I went to the dressing room, he said, 'It's OK. What's important is to win the game for the country. It's not important who is performing."

With a such a massive target, Indian's bowlers were never likely to be under much pressure, but a spirited Bangladesh performance kept it in content_cnion for the first 15 or so overs.

That was in large part down to a wild performance by opener Shantakumaran Sreesanth, who was hit for 53 runs without taking a wicket in his five overs.

Fellow seamer Munaf Patel picked up four wickets, but Sreesanth's figures will be a slight worry for the team, especially if there are injuries to other bowlers over the six-week tournament.

Before it began, commentators had generally singled out the bowling lineup as its only real weakspot.

There may also be concerns over whether the team can keep up its momentum.

The format of the tournament means that each team must play six matches before the knock out stages begin in a month's time. India and other top sides are expected to qualify easily, so they need to save their best performances for when it really counts.

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