Sunday, June 15, 2014
Start time 1300 local (0700 GMT)
"I didn't expect them to take this series so lightly," Mushfiqur Rahim had said after taking a look at India's second-string squad for the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh. Just how lightly? Sample this. The bowlers in this India squad have played a combined 87 ODIs. Abdur Razzak has played 150. Mashrafe Mortaza, in spite of all his injuries, has played 133. In fact, no player in this squad barring the captain Suresh Raina has played even 40 ODIs.
"After seeing their team, I realised that there will more expectations on us," Mushfiqur added. Which is what makes this series stand out from a usual India-Bangladesh contest. Without any disrespect to them, Bangladesh are never expected to beat India. When they have done so on the odd occasion in the past, like in the 2007 World Cup and the 2012 Asia Cup, defeat has come as a shock for the Indians.
Trying to compete, giving a fight. These are standard utterances from Mushfiqur ahead of a clash with big sides. This time, Bangladesh cannot go in any with any expectation less ambitious than winning the series. They are a far more capable side one-day side in home conditions than their recent results show. They have three established star batsmen in Mushfiqur, Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, they have a highly promising younger crop in Nasir Hossain, Anamul Haque and Mominul Haque. Mortaza has young quicks such as Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin Ahmed to assist him. The spin department has the usual names to call upon.
What Bangladesh should ideally want to achieve will not change India's expectations from the series. Raina will not want another dud on his captaincy resume after the Zimbabwe tri-series of 2010. That hardly anyone in his side can count himself as a guaranteed starter in a full-strength India line-up will motivate them. As also the fact that if they lose, it will be India that would have lost, and not India A, as Mushfiqur has helpfully pointed out.
Rated the best wicketkeeper currently in India by many, the tag has brought little joy to Wriddhiman Saha. He has played three ODIs compared to Dinesh Karthik's 71. A poor Asia Cup for the latter has contributed to opening up an opportunity for Saha in Bangladesh. Saha has a first-class average of 45.90 and a List A one of 44.91, but it has taken a standout IPL - 362 runs, including a century in the final, at a strike-rate of 145.38 - to probably ram home the truth that he is an extremely useful batsman. He now has the opportunity to make himself the regular second keeper in ODIs too.
Bangladesh would like to rattle India at the start, and there is no one better equipped than Tamim Iqbal to do that. However, he is yet to make more than 31 this year across all international formats. His last international fifty came more than seven months ago. As he has said, he has batted long in the nets, but it is something that has to be finally sorted out in the middle. Bangladesh will hope the sorting happens early in the series.
Ziaur Rehman, Taskin Ahmed and Mithun Ali are the ones likely to sit out for the hosts.
One of spinners Akshar Patel and Parvez Rasool could make his India debut. India have tried Ajinkya Rahane at No. 4 for a while now. It has to be seen if he retains that position or is pushed further up the order with the regular top three rested. Raina will also have to decide whether to strengthen the batting with Stuart Binny or include a third specialist fast bowler.
India (possible) 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Cheteshwar Pujara, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Suresh Raina (capt), 5 Ambati Rayudu/Manoj Tiwary, 6 Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 7 Parvez Rasool /Akshar Patel, 8 Amit Mishra, 9 Vinay Kumar, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 Umesh Yadav
Pitch and conditions
In the Asia Cup earlier this year, there was only one game involving 300-plus totals. There was turn for spinners in the World T20 two months ago. There will surely be a better contest between bat and ball in Mirpur than there was in the IPL.
Dhaka is sweltering at nearly 40 degrees, but there is also rain around, and some of it is forecast for the evening of the match. Dew is not expected to be a big factor in the evening.
Stats and trivia
India have played only five ODIs against Bangladesh in bilateral series, the lowest by any Test side against the hosts
The overall head-to-head is 22-3 in favour of India
Robin Uthappa's previous ODI was way back in July 2008 in Karachi
Bangladesh have lost their previous seven ODIs. Of their previous 11 completed one-dayers, India have won only two, against Afghanistan and Bangladesh