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India
World Test Championship

Unstoppable India aim to consolidate WTC lead

Ind v Ban, 1st Test, preview

Bangladesh earned their first ever win in T20Is against India earlier this month. Can they similarly break the duck in the longest format, in their first game of the ICC World Test Championship?

Overview

India v Bangladesh
1st Test
Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore
Thursday, 14 November; 09:30am local time, 04:00am GMT

India have won each of their first five Tests in the World Test Championship and now have the opportunity to maintain their glorious run against the ninth-placed team in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings. The two-match Test series presents a great opportunity for the new opening combination of Rohit Sharma and Mayank Agarwal to establish themselves further, after having aggregated 869 runs between them in three Tests against South Africa last month.

While Ajinkya Rahane, too, seems to be back at his best, skipper Virat Kohli remains the biggest threat for the visitors, having scored a double ton in both the last head-to-head contests between these two sides in whites, in February 2017, and in the only Test played at the venue, in October 2016. The hosts are likely to persist with Wriddhiman Saha over Rishabh Pant with the wicket-keeping duties, while the in-form bowling unit presents a problem of plenty for Kohli.

As for the visitors, the absence of two of their senior most players in Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal creates a significant void, but they would seek inspiration from their new skipper Mominul Haque, who stood out as their best batsman last year, with 673 runs from 15 innings, including four hundreds. As was the case in that historic T20I win in Delhi, a lot of the onus would also fall on the experienced Mushfiqur Rahim, who averages 56.16 from four Tests against India.

The bowling appears to lack experience, more so in the spin department, and a lot would rely on Taijul Islam, the left-arm spinner, who reached the 100-wicket mark and was one of the few bright spots during the defeat to Afghanistan in Bangladesh's last Test in September. Can the visitors erase that and disrupt India's progress in the World Test Championship?

Remember the last time

India, riding on Virat Kohli's third Test double ton, and centuries from M Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha, amassed a mammoth 687/6 declared in the first innings, when these two teams last met in a Test match – a one-off affair in Hyderabad in January 2017. Bangladesh, powered by significant contributions from Shakib (82) and Mushfiqur (127) responded with a respectable 388, but still stood 299 behind India in the first innings.

The hosts extended their lead in the second outing, setting Bangladesh a mammoth 458-run target. Spin twins R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja then exploited the slowed down surface on the final two days, snaring four wickets each to give India a comfortable 208-run win.

What they said

Mohammad Mithun, Bangladesh wicket-keeper: "In the past, no one gave us any chance when it comes to beating India in a T20, and that too in their own backyard. But our players had that belief. Whenever we play, whether it is difficult or easy opponent, we try to win the match. It happens sometimes and it doesn't on other occasions. We are disappointed that we could not win the last game despite creating chances, and at the same time, now we are looking forward to doing well in the Test series."

Ajinkya Rahane, India vice-captain: "I thought we played really well against South Africa, but as a side, we must stay in the present and we do not take any opponent lightly. Bangladesh are a very good team. They play as a unit. We focus on our strengths rather than thinking about opposition. With the Test championship, every match is important."

Conditions

The weather in Indore is expected to be clear and sunny for the next five days. The pitch could offer significant assistance to the slower bowlers as the game progresses, much like it did in the only Test played here, back in 2016, when spinners accounted for 22 of the 28 wickets in the match.

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