WT20: Turning pitch likely as India look to boost net run rate

  • N Ananthanarayanan, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
  • Updated: Mar 22, 2016 16:46 IST
Only Virat Kohli showed the acumen required to bat on the rank turners in Nagpur and Kolkata. With India needing a win by a big margin against Bangladesh, the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru may offer its best batting pitch for the game. (AP)

There is no doubt who the thousands who will turn up at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday when India take on Bangladesh will root for.

Virat Kohli, skipper of IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore, will be at his home base and those who have managed to win the online lottery will be hoping he puts on a show after a Sunday crowd went home disappointed that his teammate Chris Gayle could not during the easy win over Sri Lanka.

First, the pitch. So far, rank turners have been laid out for India matches. In Nagpur, the host batsmen were caught napping by New Zealand in the opening game, crumbling to a shocking 79 all out.

Although India won the emotionally draining match against Pakistan in Kolkata, the low-scoring affair – 118 and 119/4 – in the six-wicket win was more job done than a high-voltage shootout which T20 cricket usually is.

Bangladesh, at the bottom of the five-team Super 10 Group 2 points table, are in some disarray after the suspensions of bowlers Taskin Ahmed and spinner Arafat Sunny. Their second defeat --- they lost by three wickets to Australia on Monday night --- virtually ends their hopes for a semi-final spot barring some miracle against the rejuvenated India.

As for miracles, well, the Indian groundsmen have been performing just that, managing to lay turning pitches for the hosts while scores have been far better on adjacent surfaces.

While India might see that as home advantage, it has prevented their batsmen from putting on a show. Kohli is the only batsman to get a fifty in two matches --- a brilliant 55 not out against Pakistan. The second highest score is by skipper MS Dhoni (30 v New Zealand). For a team whose top six batsmen are all brilliant hitters who make weighty contributions in the IPL and T20 cricket, it has been a disappointing show so far.

Read more: Turning pitches a double-edged sword

It is likely that India will get the pitch on which West Indies beat Sri Lanka on Sunday. The one for Australia-Bangladesh played much better, although the track slowed down considerably and the Aussies lost wickets in a heap before crossing the line.

India lie fourth in the table and will need a big score and victory by a big margin to climb as they play Australia in the final group tie in Mohali, another must-win game.

If the track turns – the bounce has been good -- India could pick Harbhajan Singh as the third spinner. If they do, either Jasprit Bumrah or Hardik Pandya could sit out. The other change --- although Dhoni has ruled out its possibility --- could be leaving out the struggling Suresh Raina and including Ajinkya Rahane.

Opener Shikhar Dhawan does not look very confident, either, and Rahane can open or bat in the middle-order.

India comfortably defeated Bangladesh twice in the Asia Cup, but there is plenty of prickliness between the teams. That would mean Mashrafe Mortaza’s side won’t lack motivation, although their qualifying chances have been dented after two losses in a row.

Dhoni said after the Asia Cup final win that India will get by if they beat Bangladesh, but simply cannot afford to lose against them.

The millions of viewers will hope it is as much a batsman’s show as it is likely to be one dominated by Ravichandran Ashwin and company.

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