Series on the line: India look to build on momentum as Bangladesh seek morale booster
India will look to win the series in Nagpur decider. ( Courtesy by BCCI)
- Coin toss will play a major role in 3rd T20I with series on the line
- Bangladesh took a 1-0 lead in the series but Rohit Sharma's 43-ball 85 levelled it 1-1
- India could give a chance to shardul Thakur as Khaleel Ahmed has proven expensive in the 2 matches
With the 3-match T20I series between India and Bangladesh drawn 1-1, the action now moves to Nagpur with the decider to be played on Sunday. While a series win in India will play a huge morale booster for the visitors, who came into this tour with a depleted side, a series defeat for India will pose tough questions for them to answers with the T20I World Cup in sight next year.
India are the top-ranked Test side and among the top in the 50-format game but their Men in Blue have not been able to crack the code of success in the shortest format of the game where the course of the match changes with every other ball being bowled.
Captain Virat Kohli had made it clear that their T20 World Cup preparation is on as they chose to opt first against South Africa in Bengaluru, one of the country's great chasing venues. The skipper said the team wanted to push themselves out of the comfort zone. However, batting first has not worked for India then and nor in the series opener against Bangladesh.
The hosts lost the toss in Delhi and they once again failed to taste victory while batting first. When the coin ruled in their favour in Rajkot, Rohit Sharma went hammer and tongs while chasing a modest total of 154-run target to help India level the series.
A lot now depends on the flip of the coin in Nagpur with the series on the line for both the sides. However, it would not be wrong to say that the decider holds more importance for Bangladesh, given the circumstances they faced ahead of the series and their statistics against India.
Bangladesh's off-field woes ahead of the series
Ahead of their tour to India, Bangladesh were in the news for all the wrong reasons. First came the players' strike against the BCB on October 21 and then the Shakib Al Hasan bombshell on the eve of their tour of India that really sunk the morale of the team.
Bangladesh were already without the likes of their senior batsman Tamim Iqbal, who had pulled out of the tour, to stay back home with his pregnant wife. Mashrafe Mortaza had already retired from the shortest format and Mohammad Saifuddin wasn't available because of his back injury.
Skipper Mahmudullah knew it would be a difficult task for his side to face a formidable India. His words only proved it further.
"We have to play with our heart for the country. I think this [Shakib's absence] will work as motivation for us. Mahmudullah said ahead of the series, adding, "the statistics don't lie. It is a tough ask, but it is not impossible. We have to perform as a team, and ensure we take advantage of every opportunity."
Given all that, an inexperienced Bangladesh side faced India and defeated them by 7 wickets.
Bangladesh's look to seek revenge of past narrow defeats
Bangladesh suffered a heart-breaking loss against India in the 2016 T20 World Cup in Bengaluru where Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim were dismissed in the final over of that match with their team two runs away from victory. India won that game by a run.
Two years after that World Cup defeat, came the Nidahas Trophy final, in which Bangladesh were denied after Dinesh Karthik's late-match heroics. And then once again, last year, they lost to India off the final ball in the Asia Cup final.
Thus, Bangladesh would be desperate for a series in Nagpur given their past records against these opponents and in Mushfiqur's words, "to bring back smiles and calmness to the team and the nation."
India went on to field the same combination in the 2 T20Is but they could experiment with Shardul Thakur in the decider as Khaleel Ahmed has proven to be very expensive for India. The left-arm pacer has conceded 81 runs in eight overs across the first two T20Is. Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo had already warned that his side will be targeting a rather inexperienced Indian bowling attack to upstage the hosts in the T20 series decider.
For Bangladesh, Mosaddek Hossain could be rested due to his groin niggle to bring in Mohammad Mithun in the Playing XI.