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Three teams, varying ambitions, one show

cricket Updated: Jan 04, 2010 00:05 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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The Sunday morning haze persisted beyond afternoon as the two visiting teams, India and Sri Lanka had the year’s first feel of cricket, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

The tri-series begins here on Monday with Sri Lanka taking on hosts Bangladesh and that will be followed by India facing Kumar Sangakkara and friends the next day. But people here are really geared up for the hosts taking on India on Thursday.

This series will have enough in store for the home crowd which is starved of quality cricket and big stars. But for India, second only to Australia on the ICC ODI rankings list, playing seventh-ranked Sri Lanka, whom they convincingly defeated in the series last month, and ninth-ranked Bangladesh, there’s little to look forward to. Beyond guarding against complacency, easy ranking points and an early introduction to the conditions that could await them in the opening match of the 2011 World Cup that is.

Winning against Zimbabwe and a second-string West Indies side in the last few months has definitely given Bangladesh enough confidence and took their 2009 winning record to over 70 per cent, but the fact of the matter remains that Shakib Al Hasan’s side is yet to perform consistently against stronger opposition. Trying to free themselves from that line of criticism will be high on Bangladesh’s priorities in this tournament and, as Shakib put it, it will be “a chance to show the world that Bangladesh have taken giant strides towards improvement.”

For Sri Lanka, who are plagued by injuries and will be missing some key players like Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando and Angelo Mathews, winning the tournament could be a big boost, especially after a series loss to India.

Individually, the series could be crucial to someone like Rohit Sharma and fringe players like Sudip Tyagi along with Bengal’s Ashok Dinda and leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who came in for Pragyan Ojha.

Sharma got in after Sachin Tendulkar opted out and runs against his name could be instrumental to his chances of cementing his place in the side. When everyone is available India has a very strong batting line-up and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni admitted that it difficult to experiment too much as “India are expected to win, whatever you are playing and whoever you are playing.”

If Tyagi and Dinda, who are here with the selectors preferring them ahead of Praveen Kumar and Ishant Sharma manage to get a look in as a third pacer ahead of Sreesanth, good shows here could be handy for the team considering the packed schedule India have in store over the next 12 to 13 months.

Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka Live on Neo Cricket from 2 pm