Veteran fast bowler Ashish Nehra said India can’t afford any slip-ups against Bangladesh on Wednesday if they are to avoid a humiliating early exit from the World Twenty20 on home soil.
The hosts are precariously placed in fourth spot of Group Two after one defeat and one win and desperately need an emphatic victory against Bangladesh to boost their run rate as they bid for a semi-finals berth.
India’s six-wicket win over arch-rivals Pakistan on Saturday will have boosted their confidence after a shock 47-run defeat to New Zealand in their opening group match.
But Nehra, part of the Indian side that won the 50-over ICC World Cup in 2011, said Bangladesh could not be “taken lightly”.
“Only two teams will qualify. Till the time (you do), you need to approach every game as a knockout game. There’s not too much room for error,” the 36-year-old said in a pre-match press conference on Tuesday.
“Everyone in the dressing room, we are not taking Bangladesh lightly.”
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has urged his big-hitters to improve their run rate dramatically against Bangladesh and then Australia in the following match if they are to be sure of qualification.
While Bangladesh have a poor track record in T20s, they beat India in a one-day series last year.
Dhoni said India, firm favourites at the start of the tournament to lift a second World T20 title, needed to improve to qualify from a tough group. “I still feel there is still scope for improvement and in the coming two games that will be our priority,” he said after Saturday’s win over Pakistan.
New Zealand top the group on six points after three wins while Pakistan, Australia and India all have two points. However India’s run rate, which could determine who qualifies, is considerably worse than their rivals.
“In the first game our run rate went down. So it’s not only about winning but you have to take care of the run-rate at some point,” added Dhoni.
The hosts are seeking to become the first country to win the World T20 title twice, after clinching the crown in 2007, and also the first to win at home.
A depleted Bangladesh, in comparison, will be desperate for a win after two straight losses, the latest to Australia by three wickets on Monday.
Sitting at the bottom of Group Two after also losing to Pakistan, the Tigers have almost no chance of advancing to the semi-finals, but skipper Mashrafe Mortaza vowed to battle on.
“We will keep fighting. We still have two matches to fight hard,” he said.
Shakib Al Hasan, widely considered Bangladesh’s best player, said his side needed to stamp out sloppy fielding including dropped catches that marred their efforts against Australia.
“We need to be very disciplined with our bowling and fielding to restrict them (India),” he said.
The Tigers were left reeling after the ICC’s decision at the weekend to suspend their top bowlers Arafat Sunny and Taskin Ahmed for illegal actions, forcing them to rush in replacements from Bangladesh.
There are also question marks over star batsman Tamim Iqbal who is unwell and did not play against Australia.