Bangladesh v India, Champions Trophy semi-final, Edgbaston June 14, 2017

India facing a 'changed Bangladesh'

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It says much for the progress of Bangladesh in recent years that their senior players and coaches keep being asked a very similar question: is this the biggest moment in the history of the team?

That a reasonable answer to that question - whether it was asked ahead of the World Cup quarter-final in 2015, when they defeated England in a Test in Dhaka or Sri Lanka in a Test in Colombo, when they won home ODI series against Pakistan, India and South Africa, or now, when they find themselves in the semi-final of a global tournament for the first time - is "yes" confirms the impression that, as their captain Mashrafe Mortaza put it, their "graph is pretty good. We're coming up."

While most would accept that they have enjoyed a little fortune on the way to the semi-final - rain came to their rescue against Australia - the general impression remains: Bangladesh are a growing force in international cricket. Their future looks bright.

There is no doubt that India are favourites in this semi-final, though. Strong favourites. It's not just that they have a hugely experienced batting and bowling line-up, it's that they have a huge amount of experience of playing in such high-profile games.

But as if Pakistan's victory over England had not already exposed the folly of presumption, Bangladesh have a record that demands respect. They have produced the two highest partnerships of the tournament to date (Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah added 224 for the fifth wicket against New Zealand, while Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim added 166 for the third wicket against England), they have recorded four of the nine highest individual scores (including three centuries) and they have won two of the last three ODIs between these sides.

Most of all, they have a skillful, varied attack that, even on the fine batting surface anticipated at Edgbaston, provides Mashrafe with options.

For all those reasons, Bangladesh should be a far more confident side than the one brushed aside by India in the World Cup quarter-final. Now they know they can win big games and fight back from tough positions. Now they know they belong at this level. India, Mashrafe said, are going to find a "changed" opponent.

"Winning against England [in the 2015 World Cup] helped us a lot. We lost our next match, against New Zealand in New Zealand, but on a tough wicket we scored almost 300 and the team took a boost from that.

"After that, we beat Pakistan, India and South Africa. Yes, it was at home, but we gained more self-respect by beating those sort of teams.

"So this team has changed. Over the last two or three years, we've changed a lot, especially in the dressing rooms. Now we play with freedom. The coaches support the players and don't drop them. These sort of things actually change teams."

Mashrafe took particular confidence from the victory over New Zealand. With 20 overs of the New Zealand innings remaining, they were 152 for 2 with Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson well set. A total well in excess of 300 looked likely.

"That's the thing," he explained. "We never give up. They batted really well, but we came back strongly. And once you have played at your best, you know how well you can play and things can change. I know, on our day, we can do anything."

Might the pressure of the occasion prove a burden? Mashrafe accepted his side is in uncharted territory here, but, like his coach the previous day, attempted to alleviate the burden.

"It is our first time in our life in a semi-final; that is a fact," he said. "And if you look at it as a semi-final, the pressure will be very hard. But if you think of it as just another match, the pressure will come a lot easier. And India has more pressure than us as the population is huge there and people love cricket a lot. Both teams have a lot of expectations."

For a Bangladesh team of which very little was expected not so long ago, such hopes are another sign of progress. Few would bet against this being the first of many semi-final appearances over the coming years.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   masuda1985 on June 15, 2017, 14:10 GMT

    ok...Bangladesh is done....India -pakistan final is on the card...Bangladeshi batters couldn't hold the nerve....wish india wins the champion trophy as a worthy team...Congratulations to Bangladesh for sole win against newzealand...From a Bangladeshi fan...

  • cricfan12079770 on June 15, 2017, 12:52 GMT

    CRICFAN2455760654 ON JUNE 15, 2017, 8:36 GMT:''Tamim is overrated. He cant stand against a quality bowling attack''. You mean that England, Australia, Pakistan, India doesn't have a quality bowling attack. Honestly, he is underrated.

  • keepcalmandslaptheumpire on June 15, 2017, 8:57 GMT

    I would usually say they deserve but Bangladesh in all honestly played awful except for the one period against NZ with Shakib and Mahmudullah combining. Aus with two washouts (and let's not forget on track for a huge win in the Bangladesh match and thus higher NRR and huge NRR deficit for Bangladesh) was more deserving and lost the only completed game against the group toppers and hosts. NZ probably would've won against Aus although had a lesser NRR so in reality Bangladesh should've finished bottom of the group barring one period of cricket. That is how lopsided this tournament has been that 1 win saw Bangladesh into the semis simply as rain saved them from a massive loss against Aus. I'd usually want India to lose but they deserve to win over Bangladesh for their relative consistency in the tournament and not on the back of two decent but not special players playing the mature innings' of their lives.

  • cricfan2455760654 on June 15, 2017, 8:36 GMT

    I am not sure if this is anything but one sided. 9/10 games, India will win, that too being very generous. If they lose, it would definitely be a huge upset not just to India but for pakistan and ICC as well (in terms of revenue). It will be an easy repeat of warm up game. Tamim is overrated, mainly supportef by over excited bangla fans. He wouldn't stand much against a quality bowling attack. Banga bowlers are average at its best and India has the best batting line up. On paper and in a few tours, India wins. Besides, anybody care to notice that bangladesh only has 1 win? and they are in semis? Must be a record of a kind.

  • mahendra1 on June 15, 2017, 8:33 GMT

    India needs bowlers to stop Bangladesh. So play as many 6 bowlers including alrounders such as H Pandaya, R Jadeja, R Ashwin, B Kumar, U Yadav/Md Shami and J Bumrah

  •   Arvi Man on June 15, 2017, 7:27 GMT

    Odds are in india's favour but nothing's certain. Hope we don't become complacent like we got against SL. Bowlers, esp. guys like Hardik need to step up their game to ensure a win.

  • Eclipse0990 on June 15, 2017, 6:50 GMT

    @THETRUEROWNOK India won't be under pressure. Its not their first ICC tournament, not their first semifinal. The cricketers understand that as a professional, they just need to do their best and forget about what they can't control. So even if they lose, life will go on. They won't come out and say "you all saw what happened" and have it repeated over years as an excuse. BD on the other hand have a lot to lose here.

  •   রাজীব রহমান on June 15, 2017, 6:31 GMT

    Playing semi-final for the first time, in such an event, is a huge achievement for Bangladesh Cricket Team. And surely it's going to be tough for them. India is the favorite here. But thing is it's the game of cricket and Bangladesh is improving day by day. Yet a better bowling performance is needed for Bangladesh to compete. Expecting a competitive match. All the best team Bangladesh.

  • Jose...P on June 15, 2017, 6:10 GMT

    @Md83142 on June 14, 2017, 21:21 GMT

    Nice lyrics.

    If you can also set the tune, do it. Otherwise get a composer.

    And, get a singing group to sing it. With a band to go with it.

    Wherever you boys are gathering to cheer your team.

    In an open park. or an eating place, or a closed club, just doesn't matter.

    Just go ahead.

    .

    Of course I will be supporting my team, The Team India.

    .

    Good luck in writing beautiful lyrics, though. Just go ahead, as a lyricist !

  • GNair on June 15, 2017, 5:13 GMT

    considering enough batting power upto 5 and additional 3 support behind instead of Kedar Jadhav full time bowler option must be worked out.

    1) Rohit, 2) Dhawan, 3) Kohli 4) Yuvraj 5) Dhoni 6) Pandya 7) Jadeja 8) Ashwin 9) Bhuvaneshwar 10) Bhoomra 11) Shami / Umesh

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