Well it's that time of year again, when Bangladesh play India in a home series once every 15 years or so. With the hosts coming off a relatively successful series against Pakistan, and as many as two Indian players fresh off a successful IPL campaign, expectations are running high. Here we run an eye over each team's strengths and advantages against the other:
1) Way more tattoos per square inch of skin than the opposition.
2) Other teams have coaches, India has a "team director". No one knows what it entails or even means, but it sounds impressive.
3) Should things go badly for them, the Indian players need only remember that the series is officially called the "Za'N Zee Ice Cream Cricket Series".
4) Harbhajan Singh.
5) Virat Kohli can be seen wearing thin-rimmed spectacles of late, giving him more of a distinguished/intellectual look when he calls into question the nature of some journalist's relationship with his own sister.
6) Specially calibrated special-edition coin used for toss, engineered to fall in India's favour.
7) Shikhar Dhawan reportedly saw the shadow of his own weird little ponytail on the morning of the summer solstice. This, according to a popular legend, forecasts six weeks of largely favourable results for the team against non-Australian opposition.
8) Players and fans continue to refer to the team as "Team India". (Their opponents, on the other hand, cannot just start calling themselves "Team Bangladesh". It just wouldn't work. Nor would it be allowed to by the BCCI, who have copyrighted the use of the word "team" before the name of a country. Any country.)
9) Rohit Sharma has reportedly been getting through his days without the aid of smelling salts being administered to him every few hours to wake him the %$^*% up.
10) India will want to prove a point by beating Bangladesh convincingly if for nothing else than to show that they are better than Pakistan. Failing that, they may settle for just losing by a smaller margin than Pakistan did in the ODIs.
11) Remember, India played well to make the semis of the World Cup, and that's all that matters.
12) That the series comes so soon after Narendra Modi's visit to Bangladesh augurs well for the visitors: they can take heart in assuming, rightly or wrongly, that the PM will have done the needful to ensure his team doesn't lose the series, seeing as how that would conceivably send all the wrong signals and wouldn't be in keeping with the kind of influential "big-brother" image India is keen to portray to its neighbour.
13) Ravindra Jadeja's absence in the Test side is Team India's gain. This should allow the captain to play unencumbered by the added pressure of a team-mate sporting more impressive facial hair than his own.
1) Advantage of playing at home in sweltering, humid conditions completely alien to the visitors.
2) Ravi Shastri's continued role as team director means that the cliché-ridden exhortations that are not now heard in the commentator's box will likely be spewed in the Indian dressing room. If India aren't careful and let things go down to the wire, the fat lady just might start to sing.
3) Taskin Ahmed's gruesomely disproportionate Popeye-like bowling arm is now as incongruous relative to the rest of his body as a nose stud might look on Rahul Dravid's face. If it doesn't scare the batsman, it should at least render him confused about the state of his depth perception, if not make him question the nature of reality itself.
4) Rubel Hussain has put his legal troubles behind him, having settled out of court with the woman who claimed he had duped her into thinking he was a match-winning bowler.
5) Should things go badly for them, the Bangladesh players need only remember that the series is officially called the "Za'N Zee Ice Cream Cricket Series".
6) Harbhajan Singh.
7) Mashrafe Mortaza's absence. Everyone knows that when Mortaza isn't in the team, it's like an extra player in the Bangladesh side. This is mainly because pretty much any player who replaces him is probably not broken and struggling to stand due to his legs being held together with superglue and Sellotape.
8) Narendra Modi's recent visit to Bangladesh augurs well for the hosts. They can take heart in assuming, rightly or wrongly, that the PM will have done the needful to ensure Bangladesh take advantage of a number of friendly concessions and gestures made by the Indian government to the people of Bangladesh, which may or may not include guaranteeing them a good series against India, which would be in keeping with the influential "big-brother" image India is keen to portray to its neighbour.
9) Bangladesh fans have those tiger masks.
10) Anushka Sharma is rumoured to be sneaking into the country by road from Kolkata. Even if you don't see her, you'll know she's at the stadium when Kohli fails to score.
11) Shakib Al Hasan once sat next to Shah Rukh Khan on the KKR team bus.