18 March 2015
Bangladesh v India Preview, Quarter-final 2, Melbourne
Bangladesh faces a difficult opposition on its knockout debut, but both sets of pacers will fancy their chances
Bangladesh will take encouragement from the fact that their key players lift their game when it plays India.
Mashrafe laughed when asked if he believed Bangladesh could beat India, who have now won 15 straight games across the 2011 World Cup, 2013 Champions Trophy and this ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. “You never know basically,” he said. “Hopefully, we'll play our best and let's see what happens after that.”
India has the numerical advantage. Since that famous upset in Trinidad, these teams have met 13 times. The only Bangladeshi success came at the Asia Cup in March 2012, a game in which Sachin Tendulkar scored his 100th and last international hundred.
It’s not just the team statistics that are one-sided. Virat Kohli, India’s batting talisman, has played Bangladesh six times. He has three centuries and an average of 126, including an 82-ball hundred in the inaugural match of the 2011 World Cup.
Bangladesh will, however, take encouragement from the fact that some of its key players lift their game when it comes to playing India. Mushfiqur Rahim averages 30 in ODIs. Against India, that figure goes up to 42. Shakib Al Hasan has made five half-centuries in ten innings against India. Mashrafe produced his best ODI spell of 4 for 38 in that Trinidad match.
Both teams are unlikely to tinker with successful XIs. They have also had a taste of the MCG atmosphere in this tournament. India got raucous support as it thumped South Africa by 130 runs. Bangladesh was awful against Sri Lanka, conceding 332 for 1 before losing by 92 runs.
The drop-in pitch is unlikely to ask too many questions of the batsmen, but overhead conditions could be a significant factor in this game. Melbourne has been rainy and grey for a couple of days, and inclement weather is forecast for Thursday (March 19) afternoon. If there’s heavy cloud cover, both sets of pace bowlers will fancy their chances.
For Bangladesh, Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed have been both quick and disciplined, testament to some of the work done behind the scenes by Heath Streak. India has taken 60 wickets in six games, with Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav in the enforcers’ roles, and Mohit Sharma and R Ashwin entrusted with mid-innings constriction. The team conceded more than 250 to both Ireland and Zimbabwe on smaller ovals in New Zealand, and the bowlers will undoubtedly enjoy being back at the MCG, where fours and sixes are that much more difficult to hit.
India’s spinners went for 146 against Zimbabwe. But right through the competition, India has found ways to surmount problems, even with some in the line-up yet to find their best form.
Rohit Sharma hasn’t turned up in the big games, while Ajinkya Rahane hasn’t found an encore for the marvellous 79 against South Africa. Even Kohli has been pottering along in second or third gear since the hundred against Pakistan. The ruthlessness on display during the Champions Trophy triumph in 2013 hasn’t yet shown itself, not on the batting side anyway. One of these days, with Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan getting off to a fast track, some team could be in for a pounding.
Bangladesh, for whom this is a first World Cup knockout game, will be hoping that that day isn’t Thursday.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni (capt, wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohit Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Arafat Sunny, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed.
You can follow the build up to the game and the live scoring and match highlights for India v Bangladesh here in the ICC Match Centre.
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