Unfinished business on Bangladesh's minds
June 15, 2017
Start time 1030 local (0930 GMT)
This is the thing about international cricket today. With so much of it being played by so few teams, no lost opportunity is the end of the world. The kind of heartbreaking defeat Bangladesh endured against India in the World T20 last year had the potential of setting teams behind by years. In the year before that, Bangladesh went toe to toe with India for 30 overs in the World Cup quarter-final before losing their way, thanks in part to an umpiring blunder. Such setbacks in the history of Bangladesh cricket have been followed by disastrous months, but now Bangladesh are refusing to go away, having not lost any of their upwards momentum. For the third year in a row, they stand in India's way.
Bangladesh, though, should know that they are now too old in international cricket to be satisfied with one big win in one tournament. Except that the second big win will have to come against a side that has become extremely familiar with big-match atmosphere. India let other sides drive themselves into a frenzy in these big matches, and themselves concentrate on maintaining little disciplines.
If Bangladesh are going to win the semi-final, it is not likely to happen on the back of mistakes from India, who are in their sixth semi-final in the last seven ICC tournaments. They will have to find a way to build on what they did with the ball in the first 30 overs in Melbourne.
With R Ashwin's return to the XI, India will feel they have found the missing link, especially with pitches getting slower at the end of the tournament. Against South Africa, India's quicks showed they could bowl to a plan for long enough. The one weakness is the middle and lower middle order, but the top three haven't exposed them at all in this tournament. Almost every time Bangladesh have beaten India, or come close to beating India, it is thanks to their bowlers, who have the worst average this tournament and the third-worst economy rate.
Bangladesh WLWWL (completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Mustafizur Rahman made a sensational debut against India, but is going through his first ordinary tournament. He has taken one wicket in 138 balls while conceding 130 runs. Bangladesh will hope this is not a case of mystery on the wane. They will also need to create enough pressure from the other end so that batsmen can't just sit back and knock Mustafizur around.
One of the ways to survive for bowlers in modern limited-overs cricket is to be unusual. If Bangladesh's unusual Mustafizur has been having problems, India's Jasprit Bumrah has also had a mini dip. His response in the match against South Africa was excellent, but before that match he had gone at 6.88 an over for five wickets at 60.6 in his last five ODIs. India will hope he repeats what he did against South Africa: bowl to a plan and with discipline when the ball is new, and pick up wickets when it is old.
Bangladesh played four fast bowlers against New Zealand. The decision for them is whether they want the offspin of Mehedi Hasa. Imrul Kayes might struggle to make it back to the XI.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Taskin Ahmed, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Umesh Yadav has a decent record against Bangladesh, but it is unlikely India will tinker with the combination that won against South Africa.
India (possible) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 R Ashwin, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Pitch and conditions
The pitch for the semi-final has not been used recently; unless it changes drastically over the game, these sides should not have any real preference for batting or bowling first. The weather seems to have finally settled in Birmingham, and we shouldn't have any interruptions.
Stats and trivia
- Since the last World Cup, Bangladesh have had a better ODI record against the top-eight sides than India. Both have won 11 matches each, but Bangladesh have lost 10 to India's 13.
- In 30 overs of the first Powerplay - first ten overs - in this tournament, India have lost only one wicket.
- India bowlers' economy rate of 4.33 in the first Powerplay was the best in the league stages; Bangladesh's 5.60 was the worst.
- Mustafizur has got Rohit Sharma three times in 39 balls for 38 runs.
"It's no surprise any more to anyone that they are really playing well. They've really improved their cricket, and it's a credit to their set-up and the kind of players they have now who are taking more responsibility. They are a very dangerous side on their day, and everyone realises that."
India captain Virat Kohli is not taking the semi-final lightly
"I know that on our day, we can do anything."
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo