India vs Bangladesh: Onus on visitors to bring parity in Test
After thumping South Africa in the three-Test series, India will aim to maintain their supremacy in ongoing World Test Championship and extend their lead when they take on Bangladesh in the first Test of the two-match series beginning Thursday at the Holkar Stadium.Updated: Nov 14, 2019 07:35 IST
Lopsided yet significant, but it should not count as a contest, at least on paper. This is a category of Test matches which will happen more often now courtesy the ICC Test Championships. It is precisely the reason why Bangladesh are playing a two-Test series against India, in India. In their two decades of Test cricket, Bangladesh have played a Test in India just once, three years back. The BCCI never thought it would be cost-effective enough and so it was India who toured every time for the remaining eight Tests the two have played. Bangladesh haven’t won once.
The ICC Test Rankings show a significant gap in status. India are top. Bangladesh are ninth, ahead of only Afghanistan, Zimbabwe and Ireland. The scales are tipped further against Bangladesh who are depleted without the services of the talismanic Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, the world’s best all-rounder before ICC banned him for failing to report a bookie’s approaches. Unlike in 2016, this time Bangladesh have not played a warm-up match before the opening Test of this series, beginning here from Thursday.
In the absence of Shakib, they have a new Test skipper in Mominul Haque, who is the first in a decade to break away from the famous five of Bangladesh cricket—Shakib, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah and Tamim—between whom the captaincy has been shared across formats. And finally, the greenish tinge on the Holkar Stadium wicket tops the list of issues disturbing the visitors even before the umpire calls play.
India, on the other hand, are riding a wave of success. Rohit Sharma clicking as an opener has put to rest quite a few issues. Their bowling attack, even in the absence of the injured Jasprit Bumrah and the recently recovered Bhuvneshwar Kumar, packs quite a punch irrespective of the conditions. India skipper Virat Kohli said he is very proud of that and rated them the best in the world on Wednesday.
An hour after Kohli addressed the media, a Bangladeshi journalist asked Haque: “South Africa crumbled against the Indian pace attack, so what chance does Bangladesh really have?” Haque mumbled. The Bangladesh batting is largely dependent on their two-and-a-half men—Mushfiqur, skipper Haque, who is the first to earn a Test specialist tag in Bangladesh and Mahmudullah, who is not as sound technically but has a big heart—and on paper should not stand a chance. But Haque saw this series more as an opportunity, including playing a day-night Test in Kolkata, a format India too have not played before.
So, under the circumstances, guarding against complacency is India’s biggest challenge. “It’s pretty simple. We have absolute respect for the game and the opposition we play against. It does not change,” Kohli said. “It also helps when you are with a group of young guys trying to take the team to the top and then when you achieve it, you realise the importance of that journey and hard work. Only a couple of guys have walked into the No 1 team. All of us have been part of taking the team from the stage that we were in 2014-15 to No. 1 in Test cricket. We all have a lot of respect and love for the process and that’s why we love playing Test cricket like the way we do. We understand how much effort each one of us has put in over the four-five years. That’s one reason why we play the way we do because we just love playing,” he said.