India vs Bangladesh 2nd ODI: Toss, partnerships key factors for Men in Blue in do-or-die battle

Contrary to impression that India are great chasers, results since late 2013 show they are still shaky

cricket Updated: Jun 21, 2015 13:42 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times
India vs Bangladesh,India vs Bangladesh ODI,Rohit Sharma

The myth is this India team is one of the best chasing a target in the game. The reality is that India haven’t chased down a 300-plus score since October 2013, when they overhauled Australia’s 350/6 in Nagpur. In cricket time, that’s a lot. That series against Australia saw one more encounter where India surpassed 300 while chasing to win --- in Jaipur. India won the rubber 3-2 but in the 20 months since then, they are yet to win a match by scoring more than 300 in the second innings. And they have played six such matches.

India’s confidence about being good chasers is slightly misplaced. Rohit Sharma almost scoffed at the suggestion, after he was asked if chasing 300 is challenging, as it looked in the first ODI against Bangladesh on Thursday. “No, if you look at the history, India is the only team that has chased more than 300 many times. If you look at the history, India is ranked No.1 when it comes to chasing 300 plus totals. I don’t see why we can’t chase 300,” he said.

Staying confident

There could be two reasons behind Sharma’s faith in the team’s abilities. Years of playing high-scoring competitive matches on batting-friendly pitches in the Indian Premier League have boosted their selfbelief. The other reason could be the way India have been authoritative while setting 300 plus targets in recent years. It assured them of victories ag ainst Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh in the World Cup. Going back further, there was the 404 against Sri Lanka.

It’s in chasing such totals that India’s limitations have been exposed of late. Barring one match that ended in a tie, India have folded for under 250 in those six instances (see box) they have not won since that Nagpur victory. And the issues are similar --- not building partnerships and the no-show of Kohli, whose scores in the six matches are 31, 6, 82, 2, 1 and 1. Sharma though said it isn’t about one man.

“See, a team doesn’t depend on one batsman; every batsmen needs to score for a team to win. For us, it’s very simple – whoever is in the middle should score runs,” he said.

Needing to win to stay alive or lose their first series in Bangladesh on Sunday, this is one job India have to fix quickly. There is no reason they can’t forge good partnerships while chasing on subcontinent pitches like Mirpur. Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan showed how it should be done, despite a probing start by the Bangladesh pacers. But 95/0 became 188/7 in no time. Buoyed by the first win, Bangladesh pacers are expected to come at Indian batsmen harder. And the bounce of the pitch, which got to a few batsmen on Thursday, would help them. India could put their chasing problem aside by winning the toss. But it’s a 50-50 call. And their bowling hasn’t been that inspiring as well. If India are as good as their last game, they clearly need a lot of catching up to do.

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First Published: Jun 21, 2015 11:32 IST