India vs Bangladesh: Storm’s coming, can India weather it?

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

Author 2019-11-07 11:14:45

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India will be keen to avoid a second successive failure to win a T20 series when they face Bangladesh in the second T20 at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Thursday.

Having been held 1-1 by South Africa in September and down 1-0 in the ongoing 3-match series, the Indian team’s inexperienced bowling faces heat with stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma hinting at a few changes in the department.

With injuries to frontline pace bowlers Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Hardik Pandya, India have pinned hopes on comeback man Yuzvendra Chahal, a leg-spinner, and those who have built their fame largely on success in IPL but are low on international experience: Deepak Chahar (5 T20Is), Khaleel Ahmed (12 T20Is), Washington Sundar (13 T20Is) and Krunal Pandya (17 T20Is).

Sharma on Wednesday promised a change in approach and a relook at the bowling options for Thursday, as India have to win to keep the series alive.

“The combination that we played in the last game was based on the pitch that was on offer in Delhi. We will see the pitch again today and we will think what we need to do in our bowling line-up. Our batting looks good. I don’t think there’s any change we need to make in our batting. But we’ll analyse the pitch, and based on that we’ll see what we can do as a team,” said Rohit, before adding that run-making would be easier in Rajkot than it was in Delhi.

He, however, declined there was any pressure on his bowlers.

“Pressure is on the team to perform, as simple as that. Not (on any) particular department. You’ve lost as a team; you’ve not lost as a bowling unit. So the focus will be on the team. Collectively all of us need to come together. The batsmen need to get the job done, the bowlers need to come out and take those crucial wickets—that will be the idea. We are not focusing on any individual department, because we lost as a team, not as individuals,” he said.

The seven-wicket loss in Delhi was the second successive loss for India in T20 Internationals. A blazing knock from Quinton de Kock had, in September, helped South Africa win by nine wickets before this.

In both these losses, Indian batsmen failed to set up a target big enough to provide cushion to the bowlers.

Rohit has been India’s best batsman in the limited-overs format in recent months and the team will again look up to him. Attention will also be on the likes of KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant, both of whom failed to convert starts in the first match.

Shikhar Dhawan, who top-scored for India in the first match, is looking to add switch-hit to his arsenal of strokes in a bid to improve his strike rate. He made 41 off 42 balls in the first T20.

The left-handed opener concluded his nets session on Tuesday with extensive practise of the shot, mastered by Dhawan’s former IPL partner David Warner among others, but not played well by any Indian batsman.

Mahmudullah, who was appointed as captain just before this series, feels his team stands on the cusp of a series win that will be a ‘big boost’ for cricket in his country. Bangladesh have endured tough times recently with their best-ever player Shakib Al Hasan suspended, for failing to report an approach, and a players’ strike over wages.

With the win in Delhi, Bangladesh were, to some extent, relieved of the agony of the one-run defeat to India in the 2016 World T20 and the four-wicket loss in Nidahas T20 Trophy. Mahmudullah says victory on Thursday will heal the wounds and boost cricket in his country.

“Obviously, I think it is a great opportunity especially when you have already won the first game in the series. I think the boys are feeling energetic about it and hopefully we can put up a good show,” Mahmudullah said.

“If you concentrate on the recent (developments), whatever is going on in Bangladesh cricket, a series win will be a big boost for Bangladesh cricket and also a big boost for Bangladesh cricket team and as I have mentioned, tomorrow (Thursday), we have to play good cricket to beat India because we know that they are a good side. We have to be on top from the first ball,” Mahmudullah said.

Mahmudullah remains wary of the hosts. “I think if you consider their bowling attack, they are very versatile, (both) spinners and the fast bowlers, and (overall are) a good bowling side. We have to be right on top from the first ball so that we take that momentum and go forward,” he said.

“Results don’t matter but our approach and attitude have to be correct so that we can give ourselves a chance to win the game.

Conditions have played a big part in this bilateral affair, with Delhi hosting a full game despite poor air quality.

Weather reports for Rajkot suggest rains from Wednesday night to Thursday noon despite Cyclone Maha weakening in intensity.

The stadium here can be readied in an hour’s time for play, provided rains stop before the start of play. It remained cloudy on Wednesday morning with the sun shining brightly in phases, bringing along humidity and heat. Both the teams preferred to train during daytime for two days leading into the match.

However, heavy rains along with strong winds lashed the SCA stadium in the evening. Along with thunder and lightning, it continued for more than half an hour leaving large water puddles on the field. The pitch and the area around it was covered with multiple layers of tarpaulin.

For the fifth-ranked India, a washout will mean that they will not win a series at home for the second consecutive time. For the ninth-ranked Bangladesh, a washout would mean they would have averted a series loss in India—a big achievement considering their rocky build-up to the tour.

The new BCCI president Sourav Ganguly will be present for the match.

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