High-flying India holds all the cards

M.S. Dhoni knows what it feels like to lose to Bangladesh. Better than anyone.  

M.S. Dhoni knows what it feels like to lose to Bangladesh. Better than anyone.

He was there in 2004, playing only his second match, when India crashed to defeat at the Bangabandhu National Stadium. He was there in Trinidad in 2007, when India was embarrassed and sent sliding out of the World Cup. He was there again in 2012, looking helpless as his bowlers failed to defend 289 in Dhaka, when the din around Tendulkar’s hundredth 100 could not drown out the shrill noise of failure.

India has only ever lost three one-day matches to its eastern neighbour; the same man has kept wicket on all three occasions.

It is a feeling Dhoni will not want to taste again. To him and India, Thursday’s World Cup quarterfinal here must seem like a thankless task: defeat would be humiliation before the world; victory would be met with a shrug for it is no more than is expected.

But that will not matter to Dhoni. His team will need no greater reward than a place in the semifinals, a step closer to the ultimate prize. Having won six out six, without the batting ever hitting top gear, India has nothing to fear.

Sense of calm

“Today when we were practising, there was a sense of calm,” Suresh Raina felt. “Everyone looked focused in the nets. We were discussing that there was so much quiet. Everyone was concentrating on what he had to do.” Raina seemed determined more than merely confident; that is often a good sign.

The simple truth is that if India plays its best cricket, Bangladesh should be comfortably beaten. Whatever the nature of the pitch — Mashrafe Mortaza reckoned it would be flat, having played Sri Lanka on the same surface — Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav should hassle their opponents with the new ball.

Bangladesh’s batting has largely been flaky. Mohammad Mahmudullah has scored successive World Cup hundreds and joined a great league of batsmen, but beyond him and Mushfiqur Rahim nobody has made big scores.

India’s spinners should be relieved by their relocation from the toy boundaries of Eden Park to something far more vast. They will not be sent over the ropes with the frequency that Brendan Taylor and Sean Williams managed.

Ravindra Jadeja, though, ought to be worried. His bowling record in limited-overs cricket and the promise of competent batting has kept him in the side ahead of Axar Patel. Bangladesh will hope to take runs off him, and it will be interesting to see how he responds. At any rate, India is unlikely to tinker with the team at this stage of the tournament.

Exciting fast bowlers

What has been heartening to see about Bangladesh is the emergence of an exciting fast bowling group. Marshalled by Mortaza, Rubel Hossain — his personal troubles behind him — and the young Taskin Ahmed have taken opponents by surprise. The three have accounted for 19 of the 32 wickets Bangladeshi bowlers have taken at the World Cup.

Rubel and Taskin are capable of bowling sharp spells in the early 140s, as England will testify; no longer can their team be accused of overly relying on spin to stifle the opposition.

Bangladesh will seek early wickets, in the firm hope of restricting India. Mortaza cannot risk an early partnership, if his side is to have any chance of victory. He will be especially wary of Virat Kohli, who averages 126.5 against Bangladesh, having plundered three hundreds and two fifties in six games. Kohli has made only 30s and 40s (albeit with two not-outs) since his century a month ago against Pakistan; he is due a tall score.

After a month of serving amuse-bouche, the World Cup has finally opened the lid on the main course.

Some rain is expected over Melbourne but it is unlikely to dampen India’s appetite.

The teams (from): India: M.S. Dhoni (capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Stuart Binny, Axar Patel, and Ambati Rayudu.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt.), Arafat Sunny, Mohammad Mahmudullah, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Nasir Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Taijul Islam, Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam, and Imrul Kayes.

Umpires: Ian Gould and Aleem Dar.

Our code of editorial values

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 1:25:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/world-cup/icc-cricket-world-cup-2015-indiabangladesh-quarterfinal-match-preview/article7006961.ece

Next Story