It’s payback time now
The Sher-e Bangla National Stadium was suddenly plunged into activity soon after India had begun their net session at the adjacent academy facility on Friday afternoon. Nilankur Das reports.cricket Updated: Feb 19, 2011 01:28 IST
The Sher-e Bangla National Stadium was suddenly plunged into activity soon after India had begun their net session at the adjacent academy facility on Friday afternoon.
The sky turned overcast very quickly, and one of the most disappointing sights in cricket unfolded. As dark clouds gathered on the south-east, there was a mad rush to get the covers ready. The forecast does not predict rain. And everyone badly wants it to be right so that the World Cup can get off to a bright start.
India, going into the tournament as odds-on favourites, would surely want no glitches on Saturday as they have to play just this match away in the entire tournament.
Zak looks a starter
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni knows this, and the importance of a good start. So Zaheer Khan, who began proceedings at the nets, seemed a likely starter. He did not show any discomfort bowling full throttle. The choice between Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli remains in the balance with things tilted in favour of the latter after the skipper gave his vote of confidence.
The other issue is whether India would field two frontline spinners. In Tuesday's warm-up match between Bangladesh and Pakistan here, the pitch offered nice carry early on but turned a belter by the ninth over.
The only thing that could leave Dhoni in two minds is the dew factor, which, if gets into play, could hamper the spinners gripping the ball. Dew didn't affect Tuesday’s game.
“I have not seen the wicket here yet and so can’t say whether we would go in with two spinners tomorrow. But that’s definitely an option,” was what Dhoni had to say.
That is where Bangladesh’s strength lies. Left-arm spinners in skipper Shakib-Al Hasan, Abdur Razzak and Shurawadi Shuvo and off-spinners Naeem Islam and Mahmudullah can all step up with help from the pitch.
But if both Naeem and Mahmudullah play, it is unlikely that senior batsman Mohammad Ashraful would get a look in.
For the first time since 1999, when they made their World Cup debut and upset Pakistan, Bangladesh are going into the tournament with a burden of expectations.
Hundreds stood vigil outside the stadium waving flags and wearing tees eulogising Bangladesh on Friday. They want a repeat of 2007 and a quarter-final berth. Shakib too seemed confident his team can live up to the expectations.