India to start World Cup build-up from Bangladesh series
The big names are back against Bangladesh, who haven’t lost a bilateral ODI series at home since October, 2016
If Bangladesh are more than decent in one-dayers overall, they are almost unbeatable at home where they haven’t lost a bilateral ODI series since losing to England in October, 2016. The last time India toured Bangladesh they lost the ODI series 2-1. That Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli are back for this three-match series starting at Mirpur on Sunday is a fair indication of the seriousness with which India view this tour. It officially kicks off their World Cup preparation, considering that India will host it in less than a year.
“It’s been an exciting rivalry over the years but over the last 7-8 years they have been a different team and been very challenging and we have not had easy wins,” India skipper Rohit Sharma said about the rivalry.
“In the T20 World Cup, it was a close game. It won’t be a cakewalk for us because they are a much improved side. It will be an exciting series. Bangladesh is a challenging team and we have to play well to beat them. They will be competitive in their own backyard,” he said.
On tour, India are never short of support but Bangladesh is possibly the only country where the scenario changes drastically. “The crowd here can be intimidating and there is no doubt they are passionate fans of cricket and they get right behind their team. A few of our members are coming for the first time but that doesn’t change a thing. They are used to being under pressure,” said Sharma.
With the return of the big names, it’s unlikely India will experiment too much, especially in the middle order. Mohammed Shami though is ruled out due to a shoulder injury. A BCCI statement said: “Shami is currently under the supervision of the BCCI medical team at the NCA, Bengaluru” having suffered the injury during a training session after he returned from Australia. Umran Malik has been drafted in as replacement.
Bangladesh too will be without a couple of big names. Regular ODI captain Tamim Iqbal has been ruled out due to groin injury and pacer Taskin Ahmed is out with a back injury.
“Honestly, we don’t look at opposition composition too much and our focus is playing together as a team. They will miss their experienced players but that also gives an opportunity for the younger guys to come in and make a mark,” said Sharma.
ODIs were on the backburner for almost three years after the 2019 World Cup. Now, after two failed T20 World Cups, India are under pressure to settle on the best combination from a huge pool of cricketers. Sharma though said it’s too early to start thinking about the World Cup.
“I mean, every time we play a game, it’s preparation for something. The World Cup is 8-9 months from now. We cannot think so far ahead,” he said. “But yeah, we will keep an eye on what we need to do as a team, where we can improve, and how it comes along for us. It’s very, very important for us not to start thinking about so many things about the World Cup; this is the combination, that is the combination, we need to play this guy, that guy.
“I and the coach have a fair idea what we want to do and we will narrow it down once we get closer to the World Cup. But I think we just want to play cricket, play good cricket until the World Cup comes up. But first, winning the series is what we are looking at. We are looking at one game at a time and seeing how we can play well in that. And then think about the second and third. Thinking too far ahead sometimes doesn’t help.”