The journey from pushover to party-poopers in Test and ODI cricket has taken Bangladesh a rather long time, with the sub-continental side often finding itself contending with troughs of failure than crests of success. However, in the shortest format, records often count for precious little. And that is exactly what Mohammad Ashraful will be hoping for when his young Bangladesh team attempt to take the might of India in the Group A opener at Trent Bridge on Saturday.
It will hardly be an easy task. India are the defending champions, India have hit top gear in the run-up to the tournament with the annihilation of Pakistan and India are one of the favourites for the title. The Bangladesh players know that their real test will be the game against Ireland, where a win could well see them through to the Super Eights.
As for India, the idea will be to keep it simple. Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten used the warm-up games to try a few new things — with differing results — and seemed to have got it right against Pakistan.
With Virender Sehwag almost certain to miss out on this game, and maybe even the next one, the flawless transition Rohit Sharma has made to the top of the order has ensured that India aren’t missing out on strong starts.
The one cause of concern, at least as far as the batting is concerned, is the lack of match-play for the middle order. While against New Zealand, wickets kept falling in quick succession, Rohit’s brilliance was enough to account for Pakistan’s 158 at the Oval.
The bowling at the death has been iffy, to say the least, and while Bangladesh and Ireland might not have the batsmen to take advantage of that, things will not be the same when up against stronger opposition, come the Super Eights. Zaheer Khan, who could still be a fair way away from match fitness, would be a timely addition to the attack.
It should be an easy start for the champions, but in this format it doesn’t pay to take anything for granted.