So, this is it then! After weeks of standoffs, strikes, controversies, suspensions and of-course debates around Delhi’s polluted environment, cricket will finally take centre stage as Team India host Bangladesh for a three-match T20I series.
This is Bangladesh’s first-ever full-tour of India. And, you’d have to agree that the build-up to it has been far from ideal. But, let’s just talk cricket here! This is the new-age rivalry that was built during the course of the past decade or so. In the past twelve years or so, India-Bangladesh have provided a better theatre of cricket than the traditional and much-hyped Indo-Pak battles.
Even though Bangladesh had beaten their Asian big brothers in an ODI back in 2004 but it was really in the 2007 World Cup when the seeds of the rivalry were sowed. The Tigers punched above their weight to shock India at Port of Spain; a defeat that paved as the cornerstone of India’s unceremonious group-stage exit.
Since then, every India-Bangladesh game has been played in the backdrop of that match. For the Indians and their fans, every time they see a Bangladesh-unit, images of Mushfiqur Rahim and co celebrating against the backdrop of a dejected Munaf Patel come to mind. And, for every Bangladeshi fan, it is the unrelenting desire to do an encore of what they did in 2007 or in 2015 and the will to shrug off the pain of every close defeat they’ve suffered, every time they face their Asian big brothers.
It has been so close yet too far for Bangladesh in the shortest format of the game- be it the 2016 T20 World Cup encounter in Bengaluru or the Nidahas Trophy final. With India missing Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar from the set-up, can the Tigers finally pull off a win against the Men in Blue?
In Virat Kohli’s absence, the onus to shepherd the Indian batting will be on captain Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The former is coming off a great Test series against South Africa and the right-hander would be hoping to shrug off what was a rare blip in the T20I series against the Proteas last month. His partner, Shikhar Dhawan, has also been in indifferent form in both 50-over and especially T20 format in 2019.
It will be interesting to see who does India play at No.3. Ideally, it is KL Rahul whenever Virat is rested and the right-hander is also coming off a great Vijay-Hazare Trophy season. In the past two series, India has tossed up between Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey but the former batted at No.4 against South Africa and should retain his spot. Even though Sanju Samson is in the squad, under-fire Rishabh Pant will start the series as the first-choice wicket-keeper.
Shivam Dube will in all probability make his I=international debut, serving as a seaming all-rounder alongside Krunal Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, who will be playing his first T20I since the New Zealand series in February, and Washington Sundar. Deepak Chahar will once again get the opportunity to lead the fast bowling unit while Khaleel Ahmed might just pip Shardul Thakur considering he offers a left-arm option to the attack.
Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer/Manish Pandey, Rishabh Pant (wk), Shivam Dube, Krunal Pandya, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Khaleel Ahmed
Bench: Manish Pandey/Shreyas Iyer, Sanju Samson, Rahul Chahar, Shardul Thakur
Bangladesh has got to move on from the Shakib episode and for them to do that, the onus will be on the experienced trio of skipper Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mustafizur Rahman to spearhead the unit. In the absence of Tamim, Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar will open the batting while Rahim, Mithun, and Mahmudullah will form the heart of the middle-order.
Afif Hossain played a few handy innings in Bangladesh’s last T20I assignment. He and Mosaddek Hossain are the all-rounders in the team while Mustafizur Rahman will lead the fast bowling department. It will be interesting to see whether after all the controversies surrounding the inclusion of a leg-spinner in the playing XI, will Bangladesh opt for Aminul Islam in the side.
Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Mithun/Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah (c), Mosaddek Hossain, Afif Hossain, Taijul Islam/Arafat Sunny, Aminul Islam/Al-Amin Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Shafiul Islam.
Bench: Mohammad Naim, Abu Hider Rony, Taijul Islam/Arafat Sunny, Aminul Islam, Mohammad Mithun/Imrul Kayes.
Focus will be on
Rishabh Pant (India)
When Rishabh Pant gets runs, there is more talk about him than anyone else; when he doesn’t, still there is more talk about him than anyone else. He is that sort of character. With Sanju Samson breathing down his neck and pressure mounting with every underwhelming inning that he plays, can the southpaw turn his fortunes around when he takes center stage on his home turf? We’ll have to wait and see!
With Shakib Al Hasan no longer available, the onus will be on Mahmudullah to not only lead his side with the bat but also with his tactical nous. The right-hander has led Bangladesh in 11 T20Is usually when Shakib isn’t around and it will be interesting to see how he marshalls his troops in such adverse times.
99- The first T20I between India and Bangladesh will be Rohit Sharma’s 99th T20I for the Men in Blue, making him the most capped Indian in the shortest format of the game- a record previously held by MS Dhoni.
0- No of T20Is won by Bangladesh against India. Both sides have locked horns in eight T20Is with the Men in Blue winning each of them.
TV – Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 1 HD
Match Timings – 07:00 PM local time & IST (01:30 PM GMT)
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