By Shashank Kishore in Sylhet
India’s experience makes it the favourite, but neither team has been too impressive at the ICC Women’s World Cup so far
The two sides head into their Group B fixture of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2014 on Sunday (March 30) with renewed hope for it will be an opportunity to restore some pride and give their fans something to cheer about.
With three wins in as many matches, West Indies Women has already cemented its berth in the semi-finals, while England Women is placed second with two wins. To England's advantage, its net run-rate too received a fillip following a 79-run win over Bangladesh on Friday.
That leaves India with just a slim mathematical possibility of making it to the semi-finals, if it manages to win its remaining matches against Bangladesh and West Indies. But, clearly, it can't look that far ahead just yet.
For starters, the batting has looked woefully out of sorts. Take Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur out of the equation and the fragility stands exposed, which is why there is, perhaps, a case of replacing Smriti Mandhana at the top of the order in favour of Poonam Raut to lend some experience.
Kaur, the vice-captain, who till not long ago, manned the top order, has suddenly been shuffled lower down in an attempt to shore up the innings in the later stages. But the move clearly hasn't worked, as Kaur has more often found herself in a situation from where she's had to slog her way to help the team's cause.
A batter blessed with the natural ability to time the ball, as Kaur is, can do with more opportunities upfront.
The biggest positive India can draw from its previous game is Raj's form. She managed to hold her own in a typically stylish knock of 57 even as wickets fell all around her. But it can't be denied that she looks burdened by the pressure of carrying the batting unit, and will need all the support she can get from the others if the team is to put up a fight and give the bowlers some sort of score to work with.
Bangladesh has brought some freshness with its energy and vigour on the field, but the batting has been a big letdown. The side has a T20 International experience of just 20 games and a bulk of those matches have featured Salma Khatun, the captain, Rumana Ahmed and Lata Mondol.
Its batters have been bogged down early on, forcing it to play catch up. At most times, the gap has been a bit too much for it to bridge.
Numbers seldom lie. In 20 previous matches, the team has crossed the 100-run mark on only four occasions, the highest being 113. In the two matches so far in this tournament, they've managed scores of 79 and 58.
When the two teams walk out to toss, the crowd will back their team unconditionally. While a two-day break is hardly any time to fine tune technique, better mindset and application from the host could make things tough for India and that should make the crowd happy.
India: Mithali Raj (capt), Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Poonam Raut, Madhuri Mehta, Latika Kumari, Karuna Jain (wk), Jhulan Goswami, Gouher Sultana, Soniya Dabir, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Sravanthi Naidu, Shubhlakshmi Sharma.
Bangladesh: Salma Khatun (Captain), Jahanara Alam, Rumana Ahmed, Fargana Hoque, Ayasha Rahman, Lata Mondol, Sanjida Islam, Fahima Khatun, Panna Ghosh, Sharmin Akter, Nuzhat Tasnia (wk), Khadijatul Kubra, Shohaly Akther, Shamima Sultana, Saila Sharmin.