Mushfiqur targets India's bowling
India may have crossed their first hurdle towards reaching the final of the Asia Cup by beating one of their stronger opponents in their opening match, but concerns over their bowling, especially the fast bowing, remain.
In Vinay Kumar, Irfan Pathan and Praveen Kumar, they have three bowlers who bowl at a pretty similar, unthreatening pace. All of them prefer operating with the new ball, banking on any early movement on offer, and are far less comfortable bowling at the death. Praveen has not been at his best since his rib injury, Irfan isn't bowling those magic balls that earned him a die-hard legion of fans, while Vinay isn't the type of bowler who will give international teams sleepless nights.
Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh's captain, knows where India's weak link lies. "Their bowling attack seems less stronger than Pakistan's or Sri Lanka's, that's what I feel personally," he said. "This is what is giving us confidence against India."
The statement comes on the day that Joe Dawes, India's new bowling coach, got his first chance to get a close-up look at his charges. Linking up with the Indian squad for the first time since his appointment last month, he supervised a three-hour training session on Thursday morning.
While Dawes will ponder how to improve the Indian bowling, Mushfiqur and Bangladesh have to come up with a plan to contain the Indian batting, which showed against Sri Lanka just how good they can be in familiar conditions. "It is quite difficult to bowl against their batting line-up," Mushfiqur said. "But at the same time, a good ball is enough for a batsman if it's his bad day. If we can capitalise on it and make them commit mistakes by bowling to their weakness, it would work."
Mushfiqur said Bangladesh's first target was to consistently challenge the top teams. "More than just winning a game, it is important for us to play against big teams confidently, fight against them. This will help us grow and win. We lost the first game by going close, but we don't do this on a regular basis, so we tend to forget what to do in such situations when faced with it." This is their 10th Asia Cup campaign, a competition in which they are yet to post a victory against Test opposition. Unless Bangladesh capitalise on India's weakness and end that streak on Friday, they will be facing another early elimination.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo