The defending champion is the standout favourite by right, but has a tricky challenge against a team high on self-belief and confidence.
Match 14 Preview
Semi-final 2: Bangladesh v India
Date: Thursday 15 June, 2017)
Venue: Edgbaston, Birmingham
32 matches; India 26; Bangladesh 5; no result 1
Two weeks ago, in one of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 warm-up matches, India amassed 324 for 7 at The Oval, and shot Bangladesh out for 84 in 23.5 overs. Two weeks is a long time when the top eight nations of the world face each other, and though not many would have expected Bangladesh to come this far, the two sides will now face each other with a lot more at stake in the second semi-final.
Bangladesh made the most of the stroke of luck that came its way, the one point it got because of rain when looking set for certain defeat against Australia made the difference eventually. Though the magnificence of its run-chase against New Zealand from 33 for 4 cannot be overstated. India has looked stronger, with the only blip coming in the second half of the match against Sri Lanka when a combination of great batting and lack of bowling direction did it in. But having been stronger leading in to a knockout match means nothing – it’s all about how you do on the day. Historically, India has had the better of Bangladesh but in recent times, the contests have been a lot more even. The strides Bangladesh have made as a One-Day International team are remarkable, and the self-belief engendered by victories played no small part in its win against New Zealand.
India is coming off a clinical demolition of South Africa, though, and confidence is not going to be an issue. Neither will over-confidence, thanks to Bangladesh’s rise up the charts.
Given that both sides are coming into the semi-finals on the back of good wins, there is little reason for either to change their XIs.
The rains that blighted the first week of the tournament have receded, and the forecast is for sunny skies on match day. The playing surface should be friendly to batsmen, though the smart bowler will be able to at least keep the opposition in some check even if it’s not a surface on which you can run through sides – keeping with how the pitches have been in the tournament so far.
Taskin Ahmed v Virat Kohli
Taskin was recalled to the XI for the match against New Zealand, and his bowling had verve and hostility. He was easily the best bowler for Bangladesh, though the batsmen overshadowed his effort later on. It helps that he can be quick, hitting 140 kph regularly. Moreover, Taskin has always raised his game against India, and his only five-wicket haul in ODIs came against the same opposition. Given Kohli’s penchant for the big occasion, that makes this the perfect match-up. Bangladesh’s gun bowler against India’s gun batsman. The duck against Sri Lanka aside, Kohli played a match-winning hand against Pakistan and a steady but important one against South Africa, spending vital time in the middle and, crucially, seeing his team through to yet another successful chase. With both men in good nick, their contest will be worth watching.
R Ashwin: To many people, he is the best spinner in the game today. And yet, Ashwin found it difficult to break into India’s playing XI, which was more a consequence of team balance than a comment on his ability. Brought back against South Africa, he immediately hit his groove. The ball seemed to be coming out of his hand nicely, and even as accomplished a player of spin as Hashim Amla seemed out of sorts. During the lead-up to the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Ashwin was seen practicing a lot of innovative deliveries, including leg-spin. He said he was reluctant to try it on his first match back with the stakes so high. Kohli indicated on match eve that he saw no reason to change the combination, so we could well see some new tricks from Ashwin against Bangladesh.
Tamim Iqbal: The experienced opener began the tournament with a bang, and was also the only one to emerge with credit for his team in the washout against Australia. The first-over duck against New Zealand dented his numbers somewhat, but it would have only served to whet his appetite. The Bangladesh team has a few members who are still relative newcomers to the international stage, but in Tamim it has a rock at the top, one who has weathered plenty of difficult situations in the past.
WATCH OUT FOR
Only four men have played 300 ODIs for India so far. On Thursday, Yuvraj Singh will join Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Mohammad Azharuddin in that illustrious list. Yuvraj began the tournament with a bang at this very venue, with a Man of the Match show against Pakistan. London wasn’t as kind to him, though he had a nice unbeaten cameo against South Africa. Yuvraj has done it often on the big stage, and there is something to be said for the extra motivation veterans can get when a landmark moment such as this arrives. If Yuvraj can channel that into another free-flowing innings, then no bowler in any opposition is safe.
India: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (capt), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Mohammed Shami, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Imrul Kayes, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam, Sunzamul Islam.