Bangladesh are bottom of the table, but can again throw the competition open by beating the table toppers.
Bangladesh v India
R. Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
5th T20I, Sri Lanka Tri-Series 2018
Wednesday 14 March; 19:00pm local time, 13:30pm GMT
Since their loss in the opening fixture of the Nidahas Trophy, India have looked strong, the dominant force they were expected to be in the tournament, and it started with the six-wicket win over Bangladesh.
The two teams face off again in the Twenty20 International tri-series on Wednesday, and the table looks very different from how it was before their previous encounter. At the time, the top dogs were Sri Lanka, with India looking a bit out of sorts, and Bangladesh had come in on the back of a 2-0 series loss to Sri Lanka at home, hoping to bounce back. It didn’t happen then, as India won comfortably, but Bangladesh have trumped Sri Lanka since, and there is little to choose between the teams at the moment.
The first round of matches ended with all three teams having won one match each, but what Rohit Sharma called “a very smart performance” helped India register a comprehensive win over Sri Lanka in the last game and go to the top of the table.
It’s all looking very good for India at the moment. Sharma himself might have had a lean trot with the bat, but Shikhar Dhawan has played two good innings, Suresh Raina has two 20s on the go, and Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik have done the finishing job well so far. KL Rahul also looked good when he came in for the out-of-form Rishabh Pant in the last game till he was dismissed hit wicket, so no major concerns on that front.
With the ball, too, India have had success as they restricted Bangladesh to 139/8 first and then stopped Sri Lanka at 152/9 on a pitch that Thisara Perera felt was “beautiful” for batting. Shardul Thakur has been excellent since getting bashed about by Kusal Perera in the first game, while Washington Sundar has an economy rate of 6 despite bowling most of his overs in the Powerplay.
The other bowlers, especially Jaydev Unadkat (10.6), have been expensive, though, and that could be something for the team to look at going forward. Sharma has said again and again that he believes in giving players chances, but with options in Mohammed Siraj, the left-arm paceman, and Axar Patel, the left-arm spinner, in the squad, there might be something to ponder.
It all worked beautifully for Bangladesh against Sri Lanka, especially after the way Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das got off to a flyer and Mushfiqur Rahim did stellar work to finish things off. Those are good signs, even though Mahmudullah, the stand-in captain, hasn’t quite hit his straps yet and both Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman have blown hot and blown cold in turn.
The bigger concern for Bangladesh is in the other department, where the three-pronged pace attack has been very expensive. Rubel Hossain had a good game against India, and Mustafizur Rahman has picked up four wickets so far, but they have both gone for runs, while Taskin Ahmed, the third part of the plan, has given away 68 runs in six overs so far.
Mehidy Hasan, the off-spinner, has been the most effective of the Bangladesh bowlers in the two games and while that might lead to the team management having a rethink, they don’t have another specialist spinner in the side apart from Nazmul Islam, the left-arm spinner, who has played both games but hasn’t had much of an impact.
India are the team with the momentum here, but as Bangladesh showed against Sri Lanka, they can lift their game on their day and cause some damage.
Liton Das (Bangladesh): The 23-year-old came into prominence as a wicket-keeper but has made a big impact with his batting, especially in the ongoing series. The 34 against India was a good back-to-the-wall effort but he really turned it on against Sri Lanka when given a chance to open the batting, smashing two fours and five sixes in a 19-ball 43. It’s exactly the kind of support that can take the load off Tamim Iqbal’s shoulders and give Bangladesh the kind of start they need.
Washington Sundar (India): He has 2/28, 0/23 and 2/21 from the three matches, and he has opened the bowling in all of them – remarkable for anyone, especially someone still in his teens. The all-rounder hasn’t had a chance to bat yet, but the effect he has had with the ball is immense.
There are runs to be scored at the R. Premadasa Stadium, that’s for sure, but it will require some application on the part of the batsmen, with the slower bowlers, or the ones who can slow down their pace on demands, proving to be useful. There was rain around for the last game and the forecast for Wednesday isn’t ideal, which might mean another truncated game.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant (wk), Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj
Bangladesh: Mahmudullah (c), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Sabbir Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Abu Hider, Abu Jayed, Ariful Haque, Nazmul Islam, Nurul Hasan, Mehidy Hasan, Liton Das