Jolted India Take On Bangladesh On Thursday
Jolted out of their comfort zone after Tuesday night's defeat against Sri Lanka, India will hope to be back to their winning ways when they take on Bangladesh in their second outing of the cricket tri-series in Mirpur on Thursday.
The Indians men came here high on confidence after their Test and ODI series win over Sri Lanka but their five-wicket loss against the islanders, who were without some key players, has not only dented their pride but also shattered their hopes of becoming the top ranked one day team for the time being.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men will now have to go back to the drawing board and sort out their batting and bowling woes, besides praying that they don't end up on the receiving end of the dew factor.
The loss meant that India do not have any chance of becoming world number one in ICC ODI rankings at least till the end of the tri-series as they needed to win all their matches here to achieve the feat.
Dhoni blamed dew for their loss but his side was second best in all departments of the game against Sri Lanka. The batsmen though will have to take the blame for frittering away the chance to score 300.
In their famed line-up, only Yuvraj Singh came up with a big score which was just not enough to put any pressure on the Sri Lankans.
As Dhoni himself said after the match, the only way to win after being put to bat first is to put up a big score so that it offsets the advantage the other side will get by winning the toss.
India at one time looked set for a 300-plus score after they were 259 for five but they could add just 20 runs in the last five overs which proved costly for them at the end.
"It is very tough for the bowlers especially for the spinners to grip the ball when dew sets in. The only way a team bowling second could win a match in such a scenario is to score a big total and then get early wickets. We were unlucky not to get some early wickets," Dhoni said.
In the crucial game tomorrow, a lot will depend on how Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir start the innings irrespective of whether India bat first or second.
On the bowling front, India need early wickets whether Bangladesh bat first or second to put pressure on the home side.
Zaheer Khan, who has now become a mentor for the younger pacers, leaked runs against Sri Lanka and he will have to lead form the front tomorrow. Ashish Nehra, on the other hand, will have to maintain his consistent self.
India cannot take Bangladesh lightly as they would also be aiming for the first victory in the series knowing fully well that another defeat would virtually close their passage to the January 13 final.
They have quality batsmen in the likes of Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Ashraful, who seems to have regained a bit of his old touch after an indifferent run last year, with a 75 against Sri Lanka.
But Bangladesh have been hampered in the pace bowling department by the unavailability of Mashrafe Mortaza and injury to Nazmul Hossain, who was replaced by Shahdat Hossain before the tournamen.
With dew at night being such a big factor, it will be interesting to see whether the hosts field any spinners tomorrow. They had included four spinners in their opening match against Sri Lanka.
The toss will once again be crucial. With cold weather, thick fog cover and little sunshine here, the side which wins the toss will have no hesitation in opting to bat first.
But history is on India's side as they have won all the three one-dayers played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium against Bangladesh so far, the last being in June 2008. PTI