Mirpur: Aiming to clinch the semi-final berth at the earliest, a confident India would be eyeing for another commanding performance when they meet an out-of-sorts Bangladesh in their third Group league match of the ICC World Twenty20 here on Friday. On paper, it will be a 'David versus Goliath' contest as Bangladesh are no match for an Indian team which is now being considered as serious contenders for the title.
But the fickleness of the shortest format means that a gritty fight from the Tigers can't be ruled out against some of the biggest names in world cricket. On current form too, there has been a big difference between the two teams as they get ready to lock horns at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
The Indian team's confidence has certainly shot up after their wins against quality opposition like Pakistan and defending champions West Indies. In both matches, it was only one team that was in total control and that was Team India.
While Yuvraj Singh can cop a bit of flak for delaying the inevitable against West Indies which affected the net run-rate but Friday will give the 'Men In Blue' a chance to seal a ticket for the semi-final even before they meet Australia in their last group league encounter on Sunday. (Also read: The agony of being Yuvraj Singh)
Nothing is more satisfying than to meet an Australian team with an open mind and the Kohlis, Mishras and Jadejas will be hoping to come out all guns blazing against a team which is down in the pits. If losing to Hong Kong wasn't enough, the demoralising defeat against West Indies where they were bowled out for less than 100 was even more disappointing for the thousands of home fans who passionately support their national team.
For India, there aren't too many worries save Yuvraj's indifferent form. However Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina have more than made up for the poor show by the Punjab veteran. Such has been their dominant show that skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is one of the finest batsmen in the T20 format, has not been required to bat. Waiting in the wings for his chance is Ajinkya Rahane, who can also be a match-winner on a given day. (Related read: Dhoni backs out-of-form Yuvraj)
With so much option in the batting front, the Indian team can certainly push a mediocre Bangladesh bowling attack to the wall. Save Shakib al Hasan, who is a world class all-rounder, Bangladesh does not have too many players who could pose a real threat for this Indian team. The best part about India's performance so far has been their bowling - especially their spinners. Leg spinner Amit Mishra with two man-of-the-match awards has shown that he can prove to be more than a handful on conditions where there is a little bit more help for the spinners.
Mishra has not been afraid to flight the deliveries and varied his length. He has bowled the leg-break well and surprised the batsmen with occasional googly. Ravichandran Ashwin may not have set the stage on fire but his 'leg-theory' (coming round the wicket to right handers and firing it on leg-stump) has been effective so far.
Jadeja as the third specialist spinner has been among wickets although Lendl Simons scored a few runs during the final over of the innings, in the last match. However, Jadeja and Ashwin batting at Nos 7 and 8, give Dhoni the required balance and option to tinker the batting slots of his top order.
Indian pacers have also done a decent job so far. With the ball seaming around a bit, the conditions have been ideal for Bhuvneshwar Kumar as he bowled a brilliant spell first up against the West Indies. It was a phenomenal effort as he bowled 16 dot balls against Chris Gayle and Dwayne Smith.
Mohammed Shami has gone for a few runs but has looked good in patches. The only interesting aspect will be whether India will be looking to promote Suresh Raina up the order at No 4 in place of Yuvraj. Raina is in good form and probably will be able to "express himself better" (a term that Dhoni commonly uses) than Yuvraj in current scanerio.
For Bangladesh, the campaign has gone haywire since their loss to Hong Kong in Chittagong in the qualifying phase. The batsmen haven't been able to score runs and the fielding had been awful at times. In such a situation, it becomes all the more difficult for a team to just go ahead and compete. "We should play competitive cricket. We want to improve and come up with good fight against big teams. But for that we need a good start with bat and ball," Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim had said after the West Indies match.
Opener Tamim Iqbal has played some good knocks against India in the ODIs but has looked completely out-of-sync in the last few games. Skipper Rahim has been getting starts but has not been able to convert them into big scores. Therefore, a lot of pressure is on Shakib.
The pace battery also has rag-tag look to it. Mashrafe Mortaza is forced to play although he is not fully fit as the other senior pacer Rubel Hosain is out of the tournament with an injury. Al-Amin Hossain looks to be an exciting prospect with his slanting deliveries into the right handers from the corner of the crease but he is still not ready to shoulder the responsibility of the bowling attack of a national team.
In all, India is overwhelming favourites going into Friday's match.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma, Stuart Binny, Ajinkya Rahane, Varun Aaron.
Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Anamul Haque Bijoy, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah Riyadh, Ziaur Rahman, Sohag Gazi, Al-Amin Hosain, Mahrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzaq, Nasir Hossain, Shamsur Rahaman, Farhad Reza.
Match starts at 7 pm (IST).
Story first published on: Thursday, 27 March 2014 18:23 IST