Batting the key for Bangladesh revival
January 24-28, 2010
Start time 0930 (0330 GMT)
The big picture
After the verbal jousts that spiced up the contest in Chittagong, the teams arrived in Dhaka having proved their points in different ways. Virender Sehwag had called Bangladesh "ordinary", but for the first half of the match they were more than a match for the Indians. Sehwag himself would have felt vindicated by the fact that India won by 113 runs, though Bangladesh did come close to taking the 20 wickets that he thought them incapable of.
But for a magnificent century from Sachin Tendulkar, Bangladesh could have embarrassed India even further in helpful conditions on the opening day, but that inability to close out games brought back memories of Fatullah (2006) and Multan (2003), when both Australia and Pakistan were allowed to escape from losing positions. What is clear though is that the new generation of Bangladeshi cricketers, exemplified by Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim, isn't cowed down by the opposition's reputation. Having tasted victory over some of the big boys at the Under-19 level, they certainly aren't intimidated.
The next logical step is to take that confidence and translate it into runs. It was poor batting that cost them the opening game, with Mushfiqur's dashing century coming far too late in the piece to be of anything more than nuisance value. When you bowl a team out for 243, you need to do far better than respond with 242.
India, for their part, are unlikely to be as sloppy as they were in Chittagong, and they will certainly be boosted by the return of MS Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh. However, VVS Laxman's absence through injury - he has been ruled out - means the batting is a bit weaker. With Sreesanth having gone home with a hamstring strain, it wouldn't be surprising if Amit Mishra was retained after a decent showing in the first Test. It's been years since India won four Tests on the bounce, and success in Dhaka will set them up nicely for a two-match series against South Africa that will almost certainly decide which team is ranked No.1 in the world.
Form guide(last five completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...Rahul Dravid missed out in the first Test, but has been in tremendous form over the past year, scoring two centuries against Sri Lanka and leading Karnataka into the Ranji Trophy final. In sunny conditions at the Shere Bangla Stadium, he could well book in for the sort of marathon innings that has epitomised his career.
Shakib Al Hasan shone with the ball in the opening Test, but will feel that he could have done so much more with the bat. His temperament under pressure was a huge factor in Bangladesh's triumph in the Caribbean, and he'll need to be on top of his batting game if India are to be upset in Dhaka.
Team newsBangladesh have included the off-spinner allrounder Naeem Islam in their squad but are unlikely to tinker much after having given India a scare in Chittagong. Shahriar Nafees won't be dumped after just one failure, and an absence of quality replacements means that even the hit-and-miss Mohammad Ashraful is safe for now.
Bangladesh: (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Shahriar Nafees, 4 Mohammad Ashraful, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Raqibul Hasan, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Shahadat Hossain, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Dhoni will return in place of Dinesh Karthik. M Vijay has been the first-choice replacement for India of late but there is only a middle-order spot available now that Laxman will not play. Plenty of eyes will be on Yuvraj Singh who looked completely out of sorts in Chittagong. With Harbhajan returning and Sreesanth dropping out, Mishra will keep his place.
India: (probable) 1 Virender Sehwag, 2 Gautam Gambhir, 3 Rahul Dravid, 4 Sachin Tendulkar, 5 M Vijay, 6 Yuvraj Singh, 7 MS Dhoni (capt, wk), 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Amit Mishra, 11 Ishant Sharma.
Pitch and conditionsAfter India piled up 610 for 3 in the first Test to be played here, the venue has seen only two totals in excess of 400. There were plenty of runs on offer during the recent tri-series and with sunshine predicted over the next five days, it should certainly be a win-toss-bat-first pitch. The seamers are unlikely to enjoy the conditions as much as they did in Chittagong.
Stats and trivia
- Gautam Gambhir has now scored centuries in each of his last five Tests. Only Sir Donald Bradman has scored six on the trot.
- India have won all three of their previous Tests in Dhaka, two of them by an innings.
- Since Aminul Islam's century took them to 400 in their inaugural Test in November 2000, Bangladesh have not managed more than 333 in an innings against India.
Quotes"We made some mistakes at Chittagong and we'll try not to repeat those again. We are not there just to take part. We are here to compete and fight."
Tamim Iqbal says Bangladesh believe they can draw the series.
"Our openers complement each other. Gautam waits for the ball to come in his areas, Sehwag goes right from the start. Both rotate the strike really well and understand each other. In fact they can be compared with the great opening pairs."
MS Dhoni rates India's openers highly.
Dileep Premachandran is an associate editor at Cricinfo