Stuttering Bangladesh will need to punch above its weight to cause a flutter

On the field, there isn’t much turbulence around Indian cricket.

Two potentially hard games at the ICC World Twenty20 have been handled with barely a flutter. Saeed Ajmal was seen off with minimal damage and Chris Gayle kept so quiet it was grating. Both matches played out to a template: win the toss, constrict the opposition, and stroll home as if to ask what the fuss was all about.

Truth be told, though, India was not stretched on either occasion. Targets of 131 and 130 — not substantial in any case — were rendered facile, Virat Kohli taking it upon himself to do so.

It has meant that the rest of the batting has not been severely tested. Shikhar Dhawan made scores of 0 and 30, looking ill-at-ease both times while Yuvraj Singh — the team is desperate to see him do well — needs to rediscover his mojo.

It is not likely India will be put through much hardship on Friday, when it meets Bangladesh here.

Victory will virtually assure the team of progress to the semifinals; victory with a defeat for Australia in the other Group 2 game will guarantee it.

On a day of extraordinary churn in the cricket firmament back home, India’s players trained in the sanctuary of the Sher-e-Bangla stadium, away from the gathering storm. Matters away from the field should not affect M.S. Dhoni’s men; there is work to be done, a tournament to be won.

Straightforward goal

The next step in that regard should be a fairly straightforward one. Bangladesh is a team on the opposite end of the spectrum, badly beaten in its previous game by West Indies and, by the captain’s own admission, bereft of ideas.

“Nothing is working in our favour,” Mushfiqur Rahim rued.

He made four changes, but to no great effect, leaving an expectant home crowd disappointed.

The defeat, on the back of recent losses to Afghanistan and Hong Kong, has prompted much hand-wringing and raised questions over the development of the national side, which played its first Test over 13 years ago now.

Knowledge of local conditions has not benefited Bangladesh to any great extent thus far in the competition and there is no reason that should particularly worry rival sides. India will be wary, however, of its batsmen, who seem inept one day and fine stroke-makers the next. When the teams last met, in the Asia Cup, Bangladesh ran up a score of 279. India chased that down with some ease but over twenty overs, the margins shrink.

Then there are a couple of competent bowlers in Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Mortaza. The medium-pacer Al-Amin Hossain too had a decent outing against West Indies.

India’s aim will thus be to get through the game with as little trouble as possible, and thereby advance to the semifinals of the World Twenty20 for the first time since winning the title in 2007.

Amit Mishra, R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja will be pleased with the success Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine enjoyed.

Rohit Sharma, meanwhile, expressed the belief that Yuvraj was one good knock away from regaining his confidence.

“For a batsman like him, it’s just a matter of one innings,” he said. “Everything will be alright after that. I hope that game is tomorrow, that innings which he needs is tomorrow.”

The Indian fans will hope so too.

The teams (from): India: MS Dhoni (capt.), Varun Aaron, Ravichandran Ashwin, Stuart Binny, Shikhar Dhawan, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Mohammed Shami, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Mohit Sharma, Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh.

Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (capt.), Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, Sohag Gazi, Anamul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Nasir Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak, Al-Amin Hossain, Mominul Hoque, Shamsur Rahman, Ziaur Rahman, Shabbir Rahman and Farhad Reza.

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