It’s a good time to be a Bangladesh cricket fan. The smiles are visibly back and courtesy a stunning run-chase over hosts Sri Lanka, they have thrown the tournament wide open. Till a little while ago, Bangladesh were desperately scouring for a win, more so in the shortest format, one they admittedly have been poor at. What the fourth-highest successful run-chase has done though, is it has lifted their sagging spirits. However, inclement weather in Colombo has hit their preparations building up to the big clash quite badly. Big brothers India, on the other hand, will be glad to have pocketed their second win, more because their middle order came to the fore and brought them a win without much fireworks from the usual suspect – Shikhar Dhawan.
The need for both departments to come together in cohesion has been highlighted by skipper Mahmudullah on multiple occasions. In the opening game, their batting flopped in the face of some tight bowling from India, and in the second game, their bowlers were found guilty of hitting wrong lines and lengths on a wicket that was already relentless on the bowlers. If the batters and bowlers can combine together for a cause, Bangladesh might get closer to upsetting India in a T20I, something that they have never achieved in six attempts now. While their top five – Liton Das, Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah, are bubbling with confidence, they would do well to rebound some of it on Taskin Ahmed, who’s gone over 11 runs an over on an average in the tournament so far. Mustafizur Rahman has used his change-ups well on the tour so far but the team will need Rubel Hossain and him to tighten up the noose further in the first six overs.
There’s not much that should bother India barring some names not living up to their reputation. Skipper Rohit Sharma is due for runs on the tour and although he showed some spark at the top of the innings in the previous game, he’s yet to come into his own. The red-hot form of Dhawan had meant that there was hardly any pressure on the rest of the batting line-up, but his rare failure on Monday served as the perfect audition for Manish Pandey and Dinesh Karthik, who brought along their sensible best to see India home. The other batsman who will be disappointed is Suresh Raina. While he’s been striking the ball clean since his comeback in the South Africa T20Is, he is yet to play that one big knock. Monday night provided him the perfect setting before he over-attacked to throw his wicket away, and as a result, fluff an opportunity too.Having hampered Bangladesh’s training sessions in the two days they had in between games, Colombo’s weather seems set to disrupt proceedings on Wednesday too. There’s a possibility of thundershowers in the evening, although not as high. With the groundsmen having been at their proactive best, there should be action, even if curtailed.
Having finished a game late on Monday night, the team opted to stay indoors, providing no peek into their minds about the selection plans for the next game. But, India are likely to continue with KL Rahul, whose stay at the crease was cut short by him stepping onto the stumps. Whether Deepak Hooda can come in place of Vijay Shankar will be a conditions-driven call given the pacer might relish the overcast conditions more than the offspinner.
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Vijay Shankar/Deepak Hooda, Washington Sundar, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal
Taskin Ahmed’s below-par performances in the two contests could start bothering Bangladesh, and in that case they might look in the direction of Abu Jayed and Ariful Haque. The duo managed to crank up some pace in the nets facility after having waited for the weather to clear up for long on the eve of the match.
Probable XI: Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah (c), Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Nazmul Islam, Liton Das, Abu Jayed/Ariful Haque, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan“Even before embarking on this tour, we had a clear goal in our mind that we have to make it to the final. The goal is always to win, we haven’t lost our head over the previous win, we are still grounded. There are question marks about our T20 skills, but I am hopeful we will be able to remove it steadily. We want to create a Bangladeshi brand of cricket” – Mahmudullah, Bangladesh captain
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