Test for India's new middle order
Wednesday, February 26
Start time 1400 local (0800 GMT)
The last time India and Bangladesh met in an ODI was in the 2012 Asia Cup. Then, the hype over Sachin Tendulkar's 100th international hundred was deflated by Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan's well-executed chase of 290.
The memory of that match is something Mushfiqur Rahim will want to go back to in order to boost the sagging spirits of his team. Bangladesh's preparations for the tournament have hardly been ideal. The 3-0 series loss to Sri Lanka was followed by Shakib Al Hasan's three-match suspension and then Mushfiqur publicly aired his disappointment at not being consulted over Asia Cup selections. Tamim Iqbal, the second highest run-getter in ODIs for Bangladesh, is out due to injury and the captain and Mashrafe Mortaza are also carrying niggles.
In the last ODI against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh's middle order, floundering previously in the series, showed some inclination to work for a start. Against India, who have a strong batting side even without MS Dhoni, they will need to go one better and build on the thirties and forties. They need to curb the tendency to suddenly give away their wickets.
In 2012, Mushfiqur had singled out India's bowling as a weakness and that remains true today. Their bowling struggled in New Zealand, and for this tournament they have a relatively raw pace line-up on flat tracks. India's batsmen, except Virat Kohli and Dhoni, struggled for runs in New Zealand but the subcontinent tracks may allow a few of them to find form.
There will also be considerable focus on Kohli in his first high-profile assignment as India captain. Kohli has had two previous stints as captain - in the tri-series against West Indies last year and five ODIs in Zimbabwe.
Form guide(last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
India's brand-new middle order, brought together by injury and exclusions due to bad form, will be tested. The last Indian team that did not feature MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina played in January 2004. Ajinkya Rahane was patchy in the ODIs against New Zealand, while Ambati Rayudu only had a couple of chances. The line-up will be bolstered by Dinesh Karthik, though, as the wicketkeeper has been in good form.
Allrounder Ziaur Rahman was brought into the side to replace an out-of-form Mahmudullah at No. 7. He has two fifties and a mammoth hundred in three of his last four first-class games. This is his chance to stake a claim for a more stable position in the team.
The composition of India's pace attack and the side's batting depth are the key questions. Cheteshwar Pujara may get in a look-in and India are likely to choose a bowling attack of three seamers and a spinner.
India (probable) 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Ajinkya Rahane/Ambati Rayudu, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Varun Aaron
If Mushfiqur Rahim keeps wicket, Imrul Kayes will replace Anamul Haque as opener, after Anamul's failures in the Sri Lanka series. Ziaur Rahman is likely to replace Mahmudullah while Naeem Islam will continue to play in Shakib Al Hasan's place.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Shamsur Rahman, 2 Imrul Kayes/Anamul Haque (wk), 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), 5 Naeem Islam, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Ziaur Rahman, 8 Sohag Gazi, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The teams are likely to play on another flat deck but dew may become a factor for the side fielding second.
Stats and trivia
- In the current squad, Virat Kohli has scored the most runs against Bangladesh in ODIs - 370 runs in five games with two hundreds and two fifties. Kohli has also played the most number of games against Bangladesh among the current Indian squad.
- No Bangladesh batsman, since Alok Kapali, has scored a hundred against India. Kapali scored his only ton in ODIs against India in June 2008.
"I don't count it as an upset if we win against India. We have done it before."
Mashrafe Mortaza believes Bangladesh can match up to India
"I've been around the scene for some time. Given the opportunity, I will try and use whatever little experience I've had and bat to the best of my ability."
Dinesh Karthik is prepared for the challenge of fitting into India's new middle order
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo