Momentum with India but B'desh can spring surprise
Nagpur: India will be eyeing their first T20 International series win at home this season when they take on Bangladesh in the decisive third game here on Sunday, with the hope that their fringe players contribute significantly to a victory.
In the absence of some senior players, including skipper Virat Kohli, India's primary objective of the T20 series was to identify the core of players for the T20 World Cup next year.
Not much was achieved on that front in the first two games barring the successful comeback of leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, who once again proved his wicket-taking ability in the middle overs. After Chahal and Co. restricted Bangladesh to 153 for six in Rajkot, skipper Rohit Sharma blew the opposition away with a sublime 85 to level the series 1-1.
Washington Sundar, who has been preferred to chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, has kept things tight but has not been as threatening as Chahal. Pacer Khaleel Ahmed leaked runs in both the games, increasing the possibility of Shardul Thakur partnering Deepak Chahar on Sunday.
Krunal Pandya, who has been a regular in the Indian T20 squad for a while, is yet to pick up a wicket though he has not had much to do with the bat.
Rohit fielded the same team in Delhi and Rajkot, leaving the likes of Manish Pandey, Sanju Samson and Rahul Chahar to warm the bench. If not in Nagpur, they could get an opportunity in the following home series against the West Indies next month.
Even when the senior players return after this series, India will have plenty to ponder over their team composition, especially in the batting department where they lack the firepower in comparison to teams like Australia and England. Shreyas Iyer has looked impressive in the limited time he has spent in the middle while K L Rahul is yet to make an impact, just like rookie all-rounder Shivam Dube.
However, it is the not the fringe players who are facing the maximum pressure, it is the established names like opener Shikhar Dhawan and wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant.
Dhawan has struggled to accelerate while questions are also being raised on Pant's work behind the stumps besides the constant talk over his shot selection following a botch-up stumping in Rajkot. Sunday gives both of them an ideal platform to silence their critics.
India are expected to seal the series on Sunday but one can expect Bangladesh to spring another surprise like they did in Delhi despite the absence of their key players -- Tamim Iqbal and the suspended Shakib Al Hasan.
They made a decent start to their innings on Thursday in Rajkot before losing way to end up with a below-par 153. Most of their batsmen have looked in good touch and there is little doubt that they will be itching to make an impact in the series decider.
The stand out performer for them has been 20-year-old leggie Aminul Islam who has taken four wickets so far without giving away too many runs. It was not a surprise that captain Mahmudullah was all praise for him after the second game.
However, Bangladesh pacers need to do better, especially their premier bowler Mustafizur Rahman who has surprisingly failed to trouble the Indian batsmen.
India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant, K.L. Rahul, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur.
Bangladesh: Mahmudullah Riyad (captain), Taijul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Kumer Das, Soumya Sarker, Naim Sheikh, Mushfiqur Rahhim, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Aminul Islam Biplob, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Shafiul Islam.
Match starts at 7 pm IST.