India have had four days to recover and are favourites to win the Nidahas final.
India v Bangladesh
R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
Final, T20I Tri-Series
Sunday 18 March; 19:00pm local time, 13:30pm GMT
After all the drama of the virtual semi-final between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh on Friday, the hope is that Sunday’s final will turn the focus back on to the cricket.
India, all rested and recuperated, await Bangladesh, who saw off Sri Lanka in the penultimate ball of a most thrilling clash. Despite the extremes of passion that was witnessed on Friday, the cricket remained high-quality, much as it has throughout the tournament. More of the same is expected.
That said, there are variables to consider. India’s last outing was on Wednesday. By the time they take the field on Sunday, they’d have had four days of rest. Furthermore, in their last two outings, they didn’t have to work a sweat, seeing off Sri Lanka first by six wickets and following that up with a 17-run victory over Bangladesh.
There have been photographs going around social media of the Indian players relaxing by the pool, generally using the time off to good effect. They will be refreshed for the finale, and primed to make the most of it.
Bangladesh approach the final from the opposite end of the spectrum. Their exertions on Friday would have been draining mentally. They have just a day to recover and get back in the mind-frame to prepare for the final. In general, their matches so far at the Nidahas Trophy have kept them on the field a while – their two clashes against Sri Lanka went down to within the last two deliveries.
A lot, for Bangladesh, depends on how soon they can refocus.
So, India are again favourites. Their two league matches against Bangladesh proved comfortable outings as they won by six wickets and 17 runs respectively. Both were all-round performances, and despite Mushfiqur Rahim’s best efforts with an unbeaten 72 in the second meeting, India proved to be too good.
The manner of Bangladesh’s victory on Friday would have invigorated the side, no doubt. They will be hoping to build on that, and hope third time is the charm against India.
Shikhar Dhawan (India): While Rohit Sharma, his opening partner and captain, came good in India’s final league outing against Bangladesh, Dhawan has consistently provided quick starts for the side, allowing the middle order that much more time to settle. In four outings so far, he’s managed scores of 90, 55, 8 and 35, and is India’s top-scorer. He will need to do it one more time in the final.
Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh): Bangladesh’s two victories so far have both come against Sri Lanka, and both have come while chasing. Each time, Tamim Iqbal has provided good starts. His 42-ball 50 on Friday helped settle a chase that was disrupted by two early wickets. His 29-ball 47 in the other clash was a contrasting knock, giving Bangladesh the early boost to make a daunting target manageable. His versatility is key.
What could mar the final is rain. A thunderstorm is forecast in Colombo on Sunday, and the grounds-people at the R Premadasa Stadium – usually excellent – will have to be on their toes again. Over the course of the tournament, the par-score on this pitch has been around 170. Unless someone does something extraordinary, that is once again likely to be the target.
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, Shakib Al Hasan