Can Bangladesh exploit India’s weaknesses and stay alive?

Bangladesh

Big picture

They’ve beaten South Africa, they’ve brushed aside West Indies, and they’ve looked impressive even in defeat. They are still in contention for a semi-final spot, just about, and they might have had an even more realistic chance had rain not kept them from playing Sri Lanka in Bristol.

Rather than ruminate over what could have been, however, Bangladesh will want to focus on what can still be: if they win their two remaining matches. First up are India, fearsome opponents in many ways but also one with weaknesses in key areas, namely the middle and lower order.

Those weaknesses, exacerbated by injury, give Bangladesh a clear target: get early wickets, and somehow get past Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. It’s easier said than done. And we haven’t even mentioned India’s bowling.

Still, Bangladesh couldn’t be meeting India at a better time. Their vulnerabilities have been plain to see in their last three games, they are no longer unbeaten, and they’re playing their second game in three days. Most of Bangladesh’s batsmen, on the other hand, have been in solid form, their superstar is having one of the great World Cups for an allrounder, their bowling is more than useful on slow pitches – Edgbaston fits that description – and they are playing after an eight-day gap.

But India are experts at shrugging off setbacks and putting up calm and professional displays against teams they are expected to beat. Bangladesh know this well: they’ve pushed India hard in each of their last three meetings at ICC tournaments. But whether in Melbourne, Bengaluru or, indeed, Birmingham, India have found a way to win. Will Birmingham 2019 be any different?

Form guide

Bangladesh WLWLL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
India LWWWW

In the spotlight

He’s a hero for what he puts his knees through every time he plays, and an inspirational captain, but Mashrafe Mortaza‘s primary skill is his fast bowling, and he won’t be pleased with his returns at this World Cup: one wicket in six games, an average of 279.00, and an economy rate of 6.34. Can he summon up the spirit of Trinidad 2007 and produce a big performance in a must-win game?

Against well-directed bowling and smart fields on a slow pitch, with India’s required rate climbing into absurd territory, and with only a long tail to come, MS Dhoni did the sensible thing against England, and played for net run rate. The widespread censure that came in that innings’ wake will not bother him overly, but one thing should worry him ahead of the game against Bangladesh. He has struggled to score quickly against spin for quite a while now, and particularly so at this World Cup – 41 off 87 balls, one four, zero sixes. What plans does he have to combat all the overs of Shakib Al Hasan, Mehidy Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain he is likely to face in the middle overs?

Team news

Mahmudullah was Bangladesh’s one big injury worry ahead of this game, with the batsman having picked up a grade 1 tear in his calf during the match against Afghanistan. But the eight-day gap between that game and this one has given him enough time to recover, and he is likely to feature on Tuesday.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Liton Das, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Mehidy Hasan, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 11 Mustafizur Rahman

India’s wristspinners struggled to come to terms with the flat pitch and asymmetric ground dimensions against England, and went for a combined 160 from their 20 overs, while picking up just the one wicket. With Bhuvneshwar Kumar back to full fitness after suffering a hamstring injury against Pakistan, India could leave out one of the wristspinners and play three fast bowlers. Alternately, if they choose to retain faith in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal but want to strengthen their lower order, Bhuvneshwar could replace Mohammed Shami, who picked up five wickets against England but was expensive at the death.

India (probable): 1 KL Rahul, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Rishabh Pant, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Kuldeep Yadav/Yuzvendra Chahal, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Pitch and conditions

The same Edgbaston strip that hosted the England-India game on Sunday will be in use once more. If it plays similarly, it should be flat but slow down as the match progresses, which will favour the team batting first. The position of the pitch on the square will also mean one square boundary is significantly shorter than the other. Kohli wasn’t too pleased with this, and his side did not match England’s know-how, with ball or bat, in exploiting this quirk, but now that they’ve played one game here, they might be better prepared for the challenge.

Strategy punt

Rather than a like-for-like replacement for the injured Vijay Shankar, India have called in Mayank Agarwal, an opening batsman who is yet to make his ODI debut. With KL Rahul not quite coming off at the top of the order, and with Rishabh Pant not yet seeming to possess the middle gears of a top-notch No. 4, India could be looking to return to a combination similar to the one they played before Shikhar Dhawan left the tournament with a broken finger.

The game against Bangladesh may come too early for Agarwal, but India could still think of moving Rahul back down to No. 4 and pushing Pant up to open. This could have two positive effects on their team composition.

It will give them an aggressive left-hand option to partner Rohit Sharma and allow him to take his time settling down, and it could also allow Rahul to face more spin. At this World Cup, he has averaged 21.25 against pace, with a strike rate of 56.29, as against 87.00 and 88.78 against spin. Rahul’s ability to play the reverse-sweep – a shot most of India’s middle order doesn’t play that much – and target the shorter boundary could also come in handy.

Stats that matter

  • Soumya Sarkar is one of only six batsmen in ODI history to score more than 1000 runs as opener at a 30-plus average and a strike rate of over 100.

  • If he scores 53, Mahmudullah will become the fourth Bangladesh batsman to score 4000 ODI runs.

  • Jasprit Bumrah is five wickets short – and Kuldeep Yadav eight wickets short – of 100 in ODIs.

Quotes

“We have to be 100 per cent in every area. Good thing that we still in the tournament but we have to play a lot better than what we played in our previous games.”
Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh’s captain, wants still more from his team.

“It does because when you have not major combinations coming from the lower order a Bhuvneshwar Kumar becomes vital or anybody who is handy at No. 8, maybe, could be [Ravindra] Jadeja. What it does is it gives a bit of a freedom to somebody batting at 6 and 7 so that they could start going at the bowling maybe, if you are batting first, a little earlier rather than leaving it for the last three or four overs. It is a tactic we have been debating about [while discussing] the team combination. We will have to reassess those combinations.”
India batting coach Sanjay Bangar on the value Bhuvneshwar Kumar or Ravindra Jadeja could bring with their batting skills at No. 8.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Justin Langer told me I’m an idiot – Mitchell Marsh
Virat Kohli moves to within a point of No. 1-ranked Steven Smith
Mumbai teen Yashasvi Jaiswal becomes the youngest man to hit a one-day double-century
Umesh Yadav and spin duo wrap up innings win, series for India
Shahbaz Nadeem added to India’s Test squad as cover for Kuldeep Yadav

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *