For most of the 80s and 90s, it was a given that India would easily overcome the Bangladeshis without having to shed much of a sweat. Times have changed in recent times though. And, while India would still be favourites when they take on Bangladesh on Wednesday, they cannot take the hosts lightly. After all, Bangladesh have gotten the better of India twice over the last half decade. They shocked the Indians in the 2007 World Cup league game, and again overcame the same side in the 2012 Asia Cup in spite of Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international hundred.
If India want to do well in the tournament, and end their two month-long winless streak, their batting will have to stand up. They failed in South Africa and New Zealand, but in Bangladesh they should perform better. Of Course, the inexperience in the side would be a bit of a detriment with no Raina, Dhoni or Yuvraj. But, they still have the batting talent to compete with the other sides in the tournament. They shouldn’t look too far though, and their first task must be to ensure that they don’t suffer any hiccup against Bangladesh else their chances of making it to the final will take a severe beating.
Under the conditions, the role of the openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will be extremely important. Things have changed drastically since the time when Dhawan and Sharma dominated opponents a few months back. Both have gone through a barren run, and while the left-hander picked himself up towards the end of the Kiwi tour, Sharma still has some work to do on his consistency. What should give him a degree of confidence is the fact that he has mostly done well on the sub-continent.
The middle order of India will be under bigger threat of failure owing to the inexperience in the same. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu, whoever plays in the match, will be under pressure since they will literally be playing for their places in the side. Considering their vast experience in one dayers, it won’t be long before Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina get another go in the middle order. Thus, Pujara and Rahane will have to perform exceedingly well to cement their places. The event also presents yet another opportunity for Dinesh Karthik to try and stake claim for a place in the eleven.
India’s bowling was exceedingly poor in South Africa as well as New Zealand. The current squad has little experience, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar being the most seasoned seamer in terms of matches. But, he has only played 31 games till date. With Ishant Sharma being axed, India will depend heavily on Mohammed Shami for wickets. That said, he’s still raw, and hence undue pressure must not be put on him. As for spin, both Ashwin and Jadeja would be keen to overcome the poor games they had in South Africa and New Zealand. Bangladesh would be keen to exploit India’s weaknesses.
--By A Cricket Analyst