The dreaded dew factor in Bangladesh at this time of the year which makes a lot of matches heavily tilted towards the team batting later in the evening was conspicuous by its absence when India played their
practice match against England on Wednesday. But according to the groundsmen at the Sher-e Bangla National stadium, Friday evening could see a lot of it. If that happens, medium-pacers could become the key as spinners might find it very difficult to grip the ball. And that is exactly where India's woes lie.
India are likely to go into the match with Mohammad Shami and Varun Aaron as the two medium-pacers. R Ashwin and Amit Mishra could be the leading spinners with Ravindra Jadeja, Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh providing the other spin options. Virat Kohli's gentle medium pace with his complicated action could come in handy if the dew really begins to affect proceedings.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni acknowledged that the tricky conditions might make the role of pacers crucial. "The bowling department is still an area of concern if you compare it to our batting. Getting off to a good start is really important for us. If we have wickets in hand we have seen in the past that we can score maybe 10-15 runs more than what can be a par score. In a short format like this, 10-15 runs really matter. Apart from that the fielding has been good. Overall if we do well in the death bowling and bat well throughout we have a very good chance," he said at the post match media conference.
But India's medium-pacers do not have much experience of playing international T20 as compared to an Umar Gul in the Pakistan lineup who has exceptional record in this format. "If you talk about T20Is, our fast bowlers have not played much. But they have spent a lot of time in the IPL where the conditions are a bit similar so I think to some extent that will help. We would want to bowl well with the new ball. If we can get wickets with the new ball it will be a good start. If you keep getting wickets regularly, the opposition will not be able to score too freely. We will try to take wickets with the new ball and then they will come on and bowl the last few overs," the India skipper said.
Dhoni said the team has taken a lot of positives from the practice games and top of the list was Raina's getting back to form. "We wanted to give the guys who were not part of the Asia Cup a fair time in the middle and I was quite happy with the way Yuvraj and Raina performed. They batted well. Raina's bowling has also come good. It looks set but still there are quite a few areas where we will have to improve when it comes to a proper game," he said.
On India-Pakistan matches over the years
The intensity is there of course. It is something that you cannot really take away from the game irrespective of which opposition you are playing. India-Pakistan matches always capture the imagination of people from either side. I feel it has mellowed down to some extent, whatever the reason may be, you do not see many altercations on the field. But you still see very competitive cricket which I feel is very important. So yes, growing up, we used to watch some of the last-generation people when they were playing cricket, it used to get quite tense. There were plenty of things happening apart from cricket on the field. We used to enjoy it as kids. I am glad that it doesn't really happen anymore because when you talk about promoting cricket and promoting in the right ways, I think more often than not it is played in the right spirit.
On India never losing to Pakistan in a World Cup match
A lot of people talk about it but what is important is what kind of cricket you are playing on that particular day. All the teams that are participating, they have got a fantastic side. What this format does is, the difference between the best sides and the not-so-good sides is very narrow. Even the ones who qualify and get into the T20 World Cup, you see they have also got the talent to upset some of the big sides, which means we have to play good cricket and that is what it is all about. It is not really about the stats or what you have achieved in the past.
On whether India have cracked the Ajmal code
Ajmal is a very good bowler. It is not as if he is dangerous against one particular nation. I think overall he is still a bowler against you cannot score freely. And the way Pakistan use him, they make sure you try to go for runs against him if he bowls in the slog overs or in the first six overs. He is still dangerous not only against us but if you see all the international teams, they have had difficulty on an average in scoring freely against him.