Asia Cup 2018: High-Flying India Take On Gritty Bangladesh In Super Four Opener
Bangladesh have been asked to play back-to-back matches as the BCCI manged to have the schedule tweaked.
Rohit Sharma's Team India, who outclassed Pakistan by eight wickets on Wednesday, will look to up the ante when they take on resilient Bangladesh, who have a penchant for punching above their weight, as the two teams meet in the opening Asia Cup 2018 Super Four encounter in Dubai on Friday. For India, the worry will be the team combination as Hardik Pandya has been ruled out of the tournament owing to back spasms and Bhuvneshwar Kumar might be rested after back-to-back games against Hong Kong and Pakistan. Young left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed may come in place of Bhuvneshwar but it is still not clear as to who would be Pandya's replacement. Deepak Chahar has been named as the replacement player but it is unlikely that he will be drafted straightaway into the playing XI.
Manish Pandey can add batting depth and looks like a possible addition in the middle-order, while Kedar Jadhav's off breaks are more than handy and he is expected to take care of Pandya's quota of overs.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were amongst the runs in the first two matches while Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik looked solid against Pakistan.
However, veteran Mahendra Singh Dhoni's batting form could keep the team management worried as he hasn't been firing and it will be interesting to see if Rohit promotes him in the batting order to give the 37-year-old enough time to settle down.
While India's rivalry with Pakistan is historic, the one against Bangladesh has been a bitter one post the controversial 2015 World Cup quarter-final in Melbourne.
One can't deny the fact that Bangladesh have transformed into a quality 50-over side, a format they have mastered after a formidable run at home besides reaching the Asia Cup final in 2012.
Under the inspirational Mashrafe Mortaza and seasoned campaigners like Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyadh, the team has the potential to go all the way.
With two quality pacers in Mustafizur Rahaman and Rubel Hossain backed by the experience of Mortaza and Shakib on a slow deck, India could find run scoring difficult in the middle overs.
Moreover, Bangladesh are being forced to play back-to-back matches in Abu Dhabi (vs Afghanistan on Thursday) and in Dubai (vs India on Friday).
This wasn't the original schedule, but the BCCI had managed to arm twist the Asian Cricket Council in tweaking it, causing a lot of heartburn.
"Even if we win against Afghanistan (on Thursday), we will be tagged as second in group and will have to travel to Dubai tomorrow after playing in Abu Dhabi today," Mortaza had said on the eve of the Afghanistan game.
So, that feeling of being undermined is very much there in this Bangladesh team and the match has more ingredients to become a blockbuster than the one against Pakistan.
India: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Siddharth Kaul, Deepak Chahar.
Bangladesh: Masrafe bin Mortaza (capt), Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Litton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Haider.
(With PTI inputs)