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Minnow menace

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan offers five reasons why India's outing against Bangladesh may not be so easy

The form-book, the seedings and conventional wisdom suggest India will walk off with both points from this match. Siddhartha Vaidyanathan offers five reasons why it may not be so easy

India will have to watch out for young guns like Mashrafe Mortaza and Aftab Ahmed © AFP
Bashar the glue With three half-centuries against India, Habibul Bashar has often stood alone amid the disappointing batting efforts. All three fifties have come in losing causes but Bashar's calm presence is often reassuring. He can hold the middle order together, sealing up one end as his more flashy colleagues take on the bowling at the other. He's no slouch, though, well capable of stepping it up when the situation demands.
Shock power Floating around Bashar are a group of dangerous batsmen, often veering from the sublime to the ridiculous but one heck of a threat when they come off. India don't need any introduction to Mohammad Ashraful, not after Chittagong in 2004; neither do they need to be reminded of Aftab Ahmed's powers, not after Dhaka in 2004. Then there's Shahriar Nafees, who's opening exploits include a Test hundred against Australia, Tamim Iqbal and Saqibul Hasan. All are young batsmen in a similar mould, all with oodles of promise.
New-ball variety In Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain, Bangladesh possess a more than handy new-ball pairing to hustle the best. Mortaza's skiddy cutters will be complemented by Shahadat's discomforting bounce, a prospect that could unsettle the best. India will remember Mortaza's contribution on Boxing Day in 2004, when he winkled out Virender Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to help Bangladesh record their first (and only) triumph against India. Mashrafe has also chipped in with the bat, in the two games against India, and his recent exploits in the warm-up match against New Zealand suggest a handy allround talent. Shahadat is yet to play against India but nine wickets in two Tests against Sri Lanka translates into a dangerous talent.
Left-arm menace Rahul Dravid feels this World Cup will be won by the team that manages the middle overs best. India are likely to face a slew of left-arm spinners in that period, with Mohammad Rafique's darts complemented by Abdur Razzak's loop and Saqibul's accuracy. Razzak and Saqibul arrive with economy-rates of 3.5 and 3.7 respectively and India will need to find innovative ways to manoeuvre the ball around with the field spread.
More youth, more agility Bangladesh enter the game with a head-start in the fielding department. Aftab, Ashraful and Saqibul will form an agile inner circle and their enthusiasm could be infectious. India's main worry has been the ageing nature of the side (Dravid even indicated that they'd need to hide a few fielders) and an efficient performance from Bangladesh would enable them to bridge the gulf. A couple of lucky breaks and they will dream bigger.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of Cricinfo