Kohli century puts dead rubber to rest

Eric Simons was given food for thought on the day he was confirmed as India's new bowling consultant, after his new charges sent out mixed messages against a timid Bangladesh.

Eric Simons was given food for thought on the day he was confirmed as India's new bowling consultant, after his new charges sent out mixed messages against a timid Bangladesh side. Initially, India's new ball attack did their best to prove a bowling coach was a waste of money, tearing through the top order and leaving the host nation struggling at 95 for five.

Yet Simons, the former South Africa head coach, will be well aware India's early dominance was due mainly to a supine batting display from the hosts. Once the procession of sacrificial lambs had followed each other back to the pavilion in Mirpur, Shakib al Hasan, Bangladesh's most consistent player, made India's bowlers toil. His salvo of 85 eventually hoisted the Bangladeshis to a respectable 247, but it was a target that was never likely to overly trouble India's batsmen, who made 249 for four in 43 overs.

Virat Kohli emphasised his rare talent with his second one-day international century to guide India to a simple six-wicket win. The 21-year-old middle-order batsman sealed victory, as well as his ton, in impressive fashion, as he thumped consecutive boundaries off Shakib. Defeat meant Bangladesh exited their home Tri-Nation competition without much more than a whimper. It also meant that all six of the group matches - in what was an insipid and predictable tournament - were won by the side batting second.

Simons will get a better idea of the task facing him when his side take on Sri Lanka in tomorrow's final.The 47-year-old from Cape Town, who played 23 one-day internationals between 1994 and 1995 for South Africa, has been recruited ahead of two Test matches against Bangladesh. He will then be tasked with preparing India's bowlers for two Tests and three one-day internationals against his own nation.

He has joined the coaching staff alongside his compatriot Gary Kirsten and fills a void created by the sacking of Venkatesh Prasad in October. Prasad, the former India seam bowler, and Robin Singh, the fielding coach, were removed by India's board after the country's early exit from the Twenty20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy last year. Singh's absence has also now been covered, with the recruitment of Mike Young as fielding consultant.

Young has a background in baseball, but found fame as a fielding consultant to the all-conquering Australia side for nine years, before ending his term with them last year. His last involvement with the Australians was during their series in India in October. In December he begun his association with India during their series against Sri Lanka. India can bolster their lead at the top of the Test rankings via the two-match series in Bangladesh, which starts in Chittagong on January 17.

It was confirmed yesterday that Shakib will continue to lead the home side in the absence of Mashrafe Mortaza, who still has not recovered from a knee injury. The opener, Shahriar Nafees, has been recalled after prematurely retiring last year to play in the rebel Indian Cricket League. pradley@thenational.ae

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