Bangladesh went into the match against their superior opponents with a hope of, perhaps not a win but, a defeat by the narrowest margin backed by a respectable score. But at the end of the day they returned with a wooden spoon when India, chasing a meagre Bangladesh total of 115 in 36.3 overs, notched up the required 116 in 29.2 overs but for the loss of five wickets.
Although the seasoned Indian openers of Sachin Tendulkar and Navjot Sidhu raced to 71 runs in 9.5 overs, the Bangladesh boys, thanks to some class bowling from Mohammad Rafique and Khaled Mahmud, redeemed some respect by skittling out five from the Indian top order at the cost of 35 runs. Rafique finsished with 10-5-21-2 and Mahmud with 7.2-2-12-2.
For any of hoping to reach the final of the tri-nation tournament, the ICC champions, with a win against three defeats, will now have to wait for any exceptional event in the India -Kenya match, the last of the double-leg league, to be played at Gwalior tomorrow.
Kenya, who have a better run-rate of -0.01 as against Bangladesh's -0.64, will not mind swallowing a defeat but by a decent margin to set up a repeat clash with India in the final at the Eden Gardens on May 31.
Bangladesh can only blame themselves for such a deplorable finish after a wonderful start in the tournament. On the day, skipper Akram Khan, appeared to have lady luck smiling on him when he won the toss in front of a boisterous Mumbai crowd. Disaster for Bangladesh was, however, imminent when the portly captain, acting rather like a parrot instead of taking a good look at the green top, opted to set a target for India.
Akram's counterpart Ajay Jadeja gleefully accepted the proposal and Venkatesh Prasad, the fire-brand right arm seamer, taking the full advantage of the bouncy and turning wicket, took no time to rip through the Bangladesh top-order, by now established as tentative and at times erratic.
With Prasad, back in action after being in forced hibernation for the last one and a half years, really bending his back on the lively wicket, Bangladesh lost half their wickets for only 55 runs on the board.
Opener Athar Ali Khan played 22 deliveries before being clean bowled for a duck (would you believe it?) by Prasad's new-ball partner Mhambrey. Rafique wielded his willow for a 13-ball six before making his departure in the fifth over, offering a big nick to an airborne wicketkeeper Saba Karim off a Prasad leg-cutter. Prasad then gave one-down Minhajul Abedin the marching order, which he complied when on naught by offering a simple catch to second slip.
Skipper Akram Khan and his deputy Aminul Islam tried to salvage the early shipwreck and managed to put on 32 runs for the fourth wicket. But both were dismissed in quick succession, leaving Bangladesh in dire straits. A bad dream turned into a nightmare when Bangladesh were reduced to 71 for eight. But, thanks to a gritty 44-run stand for the eight wicket between Khaled Masud and a wily Hasibul Hossain, Bangladesh crossed the three-figure mark.
Hasibul, who came into bat at number ten, top-scored with a run-a-ball 21 while Masud remained unbeaten on a gritty 15. The highest contributor to the Bangladesh total was Mr. Sundries with 34.
In reply, India were off to an explosive start with Sachin Tendulkar and Navjot Sidhu producing 72 runs in 9.5 over. Tendulkar scored a typically aggressive 33 off 29 balls before becoming the lone victim of Athar Ali Khan. The Indian run-machine holed out in the deep while going for his seventh boundary. Sidhu chipped in with 41. Bangladesh, however, gave a scare to the Indian's after the departure of the two set batsmen. But with the stand-in Indian captain Ajay Jadeja rooting on till the end, Bangladesh simply did not have enough runs on the board to force a stiffer competition.