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Team India on a ‘sealing’ drive

A victory at Mirpur on Saturday will settle the three-match series against Bangladesh for the Men in Blue, reports Akshay Sawai.

india Updated: May 12, 2007 05:32 IST

They say this about Stanley Kubrick. He once took 70 takes to film a simple scene of a car door slamming. India have a door to close too. On Bangladesh. But they won’t get 70 chances to get it right. Just two. The first is on Saturday, when the second one-day international of the Grameenphone Series is played here at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. India won the first game on Thursday and would want to wrap things up on Saturday rather than endure the pressure of a deciding third match.

Though it rained on Thursday, the forecast for Saturday is dry.

Game Two is being played at the same venue as Game One, won for India by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik. That too after a gap of just 48 hours. So there’s not a big difference in the conditions. That’s good. It’s like a second date. Or the second paper in an examination. You know the surroundings and are more at ease.

The one unknown quantity for India could be Mashrafe Mortaza. Bangladesh’s top pace bowler, wrecker-in-chief of India’s batting in the World Cup, was unfit for the first match. But he is on the road to recovery and seemed in his element during net practice on Friday afternoon. A fitness test on Saturday will decide whether he plays or not. “If you lose a player like Mashrafe, you lose something. We hope he will be fit,” Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar said. “He has taken a fitness test and will give another tomorrow. He is 70 per cent fit. The physio is confident. Having said that, we’ll only draft players who are fit; we can’t risk anyone’s career.”

Don’t know what the Indian physio thinks of his players after Thursday’s physically and mentally draining duel. India did not practice on Friday. But while they will be fatigued, they will be wiser too. Those who did well, like Dhoni and Karthik, will also be confident. Those who didn’t, hopefully, will be determined to compensate.

Who would we like some payback from? Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh. Maybe Dravid too. On this track, they should be getting runs.

Bangladesh are seething after losing a match that was theirs. That would make them keener to win. And therefore more dangerous. Their fans — not a small factor — will also work the whip of their cheers harder. India therefore need to be prepared.

Bashar acknowledged the crowd’s role.

“Plenty of people come in this hot weather to see a whole day’s cricket,” he said. “We feel for them. It’s not easy to play, but it’s not easy to watch either. We would love to win this game for them.”

Javed Omar, the Bangladesh opener and the team’s top-scorer in the first match, offered a few clues about their batting strategy when he discussed his partnership with the gifted teenager, Tamim Iqbal.

“Our team’s plan is to not give away wickets in the first 10 overs,” Omar said. “I tell Tamim to go for it because I play the anchor’s role. The plan is for one of the top six batsmen to play till the end. But if any of us gets an easy ball it has to be put away. At the same time we don’t always want eight runs per over. We do not want to lose three or four early wickets and then struggle.”

Email author: akshay.sawai@hindustantimes.com