The timing of the series and match timings have combined in such a way that it’s not just about a battle between bat and ball anymore. The trend that has emerged after the first two matches of the tri-series was that the team that bats second has a clear advantage as soon as the dew factor comes into play.
With the cold wave persisting in this part of the world it appears that the dew will continue to play a vital part. Teams bowling second have found it difficult to grip the ball. “Once the area around the seam gets wet, the ball stops doing anything. So if a team fails to get early breakthroughs, it’s difficult to defend,” India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said after losing to Sri Lanka in their first match on Tuesday.
To make matters worse, teams bowling first have got some assistance from the live grass on the pitch. Medium-pacers have got movement and bounce initially but little happened in the second session. “It was like we were playing two different matches and losing both,” Dhoni said.
But with so much riding on cricket matches these days, a little could be done to ensure that winning or losing was decided mostly by batting or bowling. The toss could continue to play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of matches in this tri-series, no matter the difference of quality between teams.
That, in fact, gives the home team a lot more chance of causing an upset against their more fancied opponents.
For the Indians an upset could severely dent the team’s ego, which has been enjoying a super run in the limited overs, except for a home series loss to a severely depleted Australia. But that being Australia, few bothered.
A win for Bangladesh might just get the crowd interested in cricket once again. Personally for skipper Shakib Al Hasan a good performance on Thursday might go a long way to boost his value at the forthcoming Indian premier League auctions. Having played and won against a second-string West Indies and Zimbabwe, Bangladesh are up against quality opponents here but they are fancying their chances.
The hosts are likely to make just one change from the first match. Left-arm medium pacer Syed Rasel is likely to come in for rookie medium pacer Safiul Islam.
It is unlikely that the Indian team will undergo a change, but with the difficulty spinners have faced in the second session, it might be prudent to get a fourth seamer in. But then, the overrate can be a problem.