Bangladesh in dire need of spirit-lifting win
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Start time 1300 local (0700 GMT)
"I think if this were our second team, they would have played better cricket." This morose statement from the Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim was echoed on the streets of Dhaka, with considerably more colour. The hosts might well deserve their fans' admonishment, after wilting in the face of a target of 106. A series that had looked set to come alive was gift-wrapped to India in a matter of an hour or so.
The Mirpur pitch had sided itself with the bowlers and accuracy proved the most vital discipline as Suresh Raina's India defended one of the lowest totals ever. Mohit Sharma and Stuart Binny are practiced in finding a good length and sitting on it. A little nip away, a sharp jag in and some lazy shot-selection led to the hosts' undoing. If the conditions on the eve of the third ODI remain - decidedly grey clouds and sprinkles of rain in the afternoon - both teams' batsmen better prepare themselves for another stern examination.
India's middle order does not portray the kind of solidity it normally does. The lack of a specialist finisher also poses greater responsibility on the top order. Suresh Raina, perhaps wary of this, has assumed the mantle of the No. 5 batsman. But that has also led to his time at the crease being limited. The openers had one good game and one bad one, and Cheteshwar Pujara is yet to sink his teeth into limited-overs cricket. All is not rosy, but India have one more chance to emphasise their batting might.
Sunday was scorching, yet people stood behind the lower-tier stands to catch a glimpse of the cricket - they literally stood through their team's eighth defeat in a row. Rain spattered across the ground on Tuesday, but they would not budge and witnessed an abject surrender. It is to these people Mushfiqur apologised, but they would prefer he deliver it with a consolation win on Thursday.
Bangladesh: LLLLL (most recent first)
In the spotlight
When you repeat your lowest score in history, the top order would have to take a healthy portion of the blame. Bangladesh had replaced Mominul Haque, one of the few Bangladesh batsmen with a disposition to bat long, in favour of a debutant. Tamim Iqbal and Anamul Haque contributed to their downfall more than the bowler who took their wickets. Flash has always been a trait of the hosts' batsmen, but the time has come to display substance.
On an inviting pitch, India's quicks rallied intelligently. Outright pace is an element that eludes the team, but they made up for it with their ability to move the ball. Stuart Binny's outrageous success would encourage both him and the management. They'll want to keep up the pack mentality they showed on Tuesday, especially if there is not as much help on offer.
An optional training session for Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon drew an audience. Akram Khan, the chief of the cricket operations committee, exchanged pleasantries with the coaching staff. Habibul Bashar, former captain and current selector, followed the training session and accompanied the team to the dressing room. All signs pointed to change on the horizon, both in personnel and strategy. Shamsur Rahman and Mominul had long sessions in the nets.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Shamsur Rahman/Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Ziaur Rahman, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Mashrafe Mortaza, 11 Al-Amin Hossain
Kedar Jadhav, Vinay Kumar, Robin Uthappa and Parvez Rasool hit the nets for India, under the watch of coach Duncan Fletcher. Considering they have the series is in the bag, India might hand out some exercise to the players who have been on the bench so far.
India (possible) 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, 4 Ambati Rayudu/Kedar Jadhav, 5 Suresh Raina (capt), 6 Stuart Binny 7 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 8 Akshar Patel, 10 Mohit Sharma/Vinay Kumar, 11 Umesh Yadav
Pitch and conditions
On the eve of the match, a brief drizzle forced the groundsmen to protect the square in the afternoon. The sky had competed with the dull grey of the covers, but as the evening wore on things got a tough brighter. The prospect of a full game, though, remains doubtful once again.
Stats and trivia
- The only previous three-match ODI series between these teams (in 2004) finished 2-1 in favour of India. In that instance, Bangladesh had squared the series before going on to lose the decider
- Suresh Raina's ODI average of 139.50 against Bangladesh is the highest for any batsman in India-Bangladesh encounters. In eight innings, he has scored 279 runs and has been dismissed only twice
- Taskin Ahmed was the tenth Bangladesh bowler to make his debut against India. None of the previous bowlers had taken more than one wicket in their debut game
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo