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Problem if it's just another series

cricket Updated: May 09, 2007 02:13 IST
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The match-up against Bangladesh should be a stepping-stone to revival.

It should be a grudge series to show Bangladesh its place.

It is a tournament for newcomers to stamp their class and re-inclusions to show their worth.

That is why it becomes surprising to see a slightly defensive Rahul Dravid before the start of the series against Bangladesh. He is aiming for a series win, while the target should be a 3-0 washout.

When the Indian skipper says, ''We are not here for revenge," he is not sending a very strong message of intent. It also does not quite create the hype that this low-profile series badly needs, though it does suit his mild-mannered personality.

Rather, Dravid should aim to do to Bangladesh what West Indies did to India immediately after the 1983 World Cup. Remember how they whitewashed us 5-0 in the ODI series, with the spirit of revenge writ large on the faces of Richards, Greenidge, Roberts, Marshall and Holding. Just a series win will not do. It should be more emphatic. Only a 3-0 ODI result will go on to soothe India's hurt pride.

India have the pedigree. Bangladesh does not have. They have beaten us just twice in 15 attempts. A success rate of only 13 per cent. And before the upset World Cup win, that success rate was just half - a measly 7 per cent.

World Cup may have shown that Bangladesh have come of age, but they still have miles to go. Their batting is certainly not strong as it looks. Their batters have had just one good day against India, and then Mohammad Ashraful played that scintillating knock of 87 in 83 balls against South Africa.

In other seven World Cup matches, Bangladeshi players came up with just one half century!

Bangladesh's half centuries in ICC World Cup

Player
Runs
Opposition
Venue
M Ashraful
87
South Africa
Guyana
S Hasan
57
England
Barbados
M Rahim
56
India
Port of Spain
S Hasan
53
India
Port of Spain
T Iqbal
51
India
Port of Spain

When India were beaten at Port of Spain, there was lots of debates and controversy on whether India should have batted second against Bangladesh. But on the basis of Bangladesh's very recent show in the World Cup, should it really matter?

At least five times in the Cup, they perished for less than 175, and each time they had failed to play their 50 overs. So much for a team whose strength is considered to be it's batting!

Bangla's batting collapses in the World Cup

Score
Innings
Overs

Opposition

112
Second
37.0
Sri Lanka
131
Second
43.5
W Indies
143
First
37.2
England
169
Second
41.2
Ireland
174
First
48.3
NZ

Now, it will be a dampener if India is still looking for just a series win against such opposition, with quality batters like Dravid, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Dhoni and Karthik in ODIs, and Sachin, Sourav, Dravid, Yuvraj and Laxman in tests.

If we see the overall history of ODIs of Bangladesh, they have acquitted themselves well against minor nations (including Zimbabwe) winning 30 out of 56 matches, but against major nations, it instantly comes down to six, yes only six out of 102 matches!

India should be able to defeat such team hands down? Should not it!

However, to be fair to the Indian skipper, his defensive look may have stemmed from the recent problems relating to payments and many experimental faces in the team. Also it may have to do with his, Dhoni and Sehwag's record against Bangladesh.

Just 133 runs from five innings against the neighbours at an average of 27 is quite disappointing, considering Dravid's overall career average of 40. But again, it could a perfect time to make amends.

Ditto for Sehwag. He averages 31.6 in ODIs and only marginally better at 32.3 against Bangladesh. Dashing batsman Dhoni fares even worse. Just 19 runs from four innings against the neighbours.

So probably India will look at Yuvraj for inspiration. If he is able to maintain his past form (243 runs at an average of 60.8) against India's recent tormentors, it should inspire the Indian batting, and make whitewash a real possibility.

But expecting just a series win, will play into the hands of Bangladesh. India should think of nothing less than mauling the Bangla batters and bowlers for the audacity they showed against the men in blue in the World Cup.