Bangladesh have done to India what Pakistan have not managed --- beat them in an International Cricket Council (ICC) event. The shocker in the 2007 World Cup group game in Trinidad knocked India out of the tournament after they also were defeated by Sri Lanka.
The victory, achieved by combative half-centuries from Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan was a one-off, until Bangladesh began showing consistency in the last two seasons. The key area has been the arrival of pacers Mustafizur Rahman and Al-Amin Hossain, in particular, lending variety to a team with left-arm spinners, led by all-rounder Shakib.
Playing at home, India will fancy brushing aside the bottom-ranked team in Super 10 Group 2. Bangladesh have lost their first two games and are in a bit of disarray due to the suspensions by ICC of Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny. Opener Iqbal is struggling to regain fitness after suffering food poisoning, which kept him out of Monday’s match against Australia.
India can’t afford to take Bangladesh lightly, especially in the shortest format. Skipper MS Dhoni said after the Asia Cup final win that India couldn’t afford not to beat Bangladesh. If India won, it would have been seen as par for the course, but if they had lost, all hell would have broken loose. This, despite Bangladesh rising rapidly in world cricket.
India will be wary of playing their neighbours on a rank turner or a very slow surface. That would be playing into the hands of the opposition. India and Bangladesh will play on the pitch where West Indies spinners outplayed Sri Lanka batsmen. Watering should help bind the surface, but the summer is intense in Bengaluru and the pitch is likely to dry up and aid spinners again.
Pacer Ashish Nehra, who addressed the media, was cautious not to say anything that would offend the opponents, lavishing praise on left-arm pacer Mustafizur, who will play for Nehra’s IPL team, Pune Supergiants.
On Tuesday, as India trained at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the afternoon, a wire mesh canopy was thrown over the pitch. It protected the jute cloth that covered the strip, preventing balls from landing on it. The groundsmen watered over the jute cover until it was taken off in the evening and cloth sheets and plastic covers were brought on.
“The ball was gripping a bit in the last two games (played on adjacent pitches),” said Shakib. “Most teams like to chase, so the toss might be crucial.” West Indies and Australia successfully chased, and India too chased in the first two games.
A victory will add momentum to India’s campaign, but they will have to be wary of a Bangladesh side which knows it has the potential to upstage any team if it does not make silly mistakes, like the two catches it dropped against Australia on Monday.