India vs Bangladesh: Time to ride the cyclone
Rajkot: Their frailties in the shortest format under the scanner, India would be aiming to ensure that a plucky Bangladesh don't run away with the momentum when the two sides clash in the second T20 International, which is facing a cyclonic threat here on Thursday.
India lost the smog-hit opening T20 in Delhi by seven wickets on Sunday, a stunning result against a side which landed here after a players' strike over pay and other issues and the suspension of their biggest cricketer -- Shakib Al Hasan -- for failure to report corrupt approaches.
India have not had the kind of success in T20s as they have enjoyed in the other two formats of late and that is evident from the results this year.
They have already lost a series at home this year -- to Australia -- before drawing against South Africa who were otherwise hammered in Tests.
In the absence of some senior players, including regular skipper Virat Kohli, the second game of the three-match series is an ideal platform for the fringe players to show what they are made of.
All this will depend on how much of an impact Cyclone Maha, which is expected to make landfall in Gujarat on match day, has on the weather in the city.
In their loss in the series opener, stand-in-captain Rohit Sharma admitted that India were not up to the mark in the field and a few wrong DRS calls also contributed to the eye-opening defeat.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan's form and strike-rate is also a concern going into the game on Thursday.
A series loss to Bangladesh will only pose more questions to the home team as it looks to zero in on a settled squad for next year's T20 World Cup in Australia.
The hosts had a troublesome time with the bat at the Arun Jaitley stadium in Delhi where they recovered to post 148, which was chased down brilliantly by experienced Bangladesh batsman Mushfiqur Rahim .
Rohit, who had a rare failure on Sunday, would be keen to lead by example.
Dhawan made 41 off 42 balls raising questions on his strike-rate and form. The great Sunil Gavaskar said more questions will be raised if Dhawan doesn't get a fluent knock in the remaining two games.
Another batsman who will be under pressure is K L Rahul, trying to cement his place in the T20 eleven after losing his spot in the Test squad.
A lot was expected from India's young brigade on Sunday but barring Shreyas Iyer, no one took the opposition attack by the scruff of its neck.
The likes of Rishabh Pant, Krunal Pandya and all-rounder Shivam Dube, who did not have a great start to his career, will have to justify their selection and deliver when the situation demands.
It would be interesting to see whether the team management gives another chance to Dube, or brings in Kerala wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson.
Also, if Karnataka batsman Manish Pandey makes the playing XI, one of them will have to make way for him.
The inexperienced Indian bowling attack is another area of concern for the team management. Pacer Khaleel Ahmed, who leaked 37 runs in his four overs and was hammered for four consecutive boundaries in the penultimate over in Delhi, could be dropped and Shardul Thakur may get a look in.
Spinners Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Krunal Pandya will not only have to contain the rival batsmen but will also need to provide breakthroughs.
On the other hand, Bangladesh, who registered their first T20 win against India in nine matches, will look to seal a memorable series victory.
Rajkot has always been a good track to bat on and it does offer some assistance to the bowlers also... I am pretty sure it will be better than what you saw in Delhi”
— Rohit Sharma, India captain
India: R Sharma (c), K Ahmed, Y Chahal, D Chahar, R Chahar, S Dhawan, S Dube, S Iyer, M Pandey, K Pandya, R Pant, KL Rahul, S Samson, W Sundar, S Thakur.
Bangladesh: M Riyad (C), T Islam, M Mithun, L Das, S Sarker, N Sheikh, M Rahhim, A Hossain, M Hossain Saikat, A Biplob, A Sunny, A Hider, A.A Hossain, M Rahman, S Islam.
Match starts at 7pm on star sports.