Bengaluru: Galvanised by the triumph over arch-rivals Pakistan, a confident India will look for another colossal victory and inch closer to the semi-finals when they square off against an embattled Bangladesh in the ICC World Twenty20 here on Wednesday.
Under tremendous pressure after the opening loss to New Zealand, inaugural champions India roared back by beating Pakistan in a high-voltage clash at the Eden Gardens to put their campaign back on track in the tournament.
A victory in Wednesday’s Super 10 Group 2 match would take the hosts a step closer to the coveted semifinal berth and the team would look to ensure that it wins big to improve its Net Run Rate, which took a hit owing to the New Zealand loss.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are on the verge of being knocked out of the event and a win tomorrow would go a long way in giving them a mathematical chance of making the last- four stage.
However, a close look at the current form of the two teams would make India outright favourites for the match even though Bangladesh have built a reputation of upstaging big teams in big events.
India’s formidable batting line-up, led by the peerless Virat Kohli, gives them a clear edge and should be more than a handful for the Bangladeshi bowlers, who would find it an enormous task to either contain or dismiss the hosts.
The only batting worry for India is the form of opener Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma, all three of whom have looked distinctly uncomfortable in the two outings so far.
However, playing in home conditions, the trio is expected to strike form sooner than later and make up for its failures against the Kiwis and Pakistan.
But Kohli will be the cynosure of all eyes once again after belting a classy unbeaten 55 against Pakistan. The swashbuckling right-hander is currently a cut above the rest as far as ease of scoring is concerned.
And captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be hoping that Kohli once again anchors the Indian innings albeit with good support from the rest of the line-up.
The think-tank might consider giving a chance to Ajinkya Rahane, who has been warming the bench in the tournament, especially due to the continued failure of Sharma, Dhawan and Raina.
Yuvraj Singh, who made a crucial 24 and added 61 runs with Kohli in the match against Pakistan, would love to continue the good work in tomorrow’s match.
On the bowling front, the attack looks settled but it would be interesting to see if Dhoni decides on bringing in senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh given that the pitches far have been supportive of slower bowlers.
In contrast, Bangladesh, who have lost both their matches, are looking for answers as to what has gone wrong for them after a fine build-up.
The team, which created a flutter by reaching the Asia Cup finals, has been in shambles ever since making the main draw of the World Twenty20.
Their prospects were further dented by the suspension of pacer Taskin Ahmed and left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny, both of whom were found guilty of bowling with illegal actions.
Given the situation, Bangladesh Captain Mashrafe Mortaza will bank on the all-round abilities of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah, who put up a good show in the last match against Australia.
The think tank would contemplate bringing back Tamim Iqbal, who is in a good nick with scores of 103 not out, 47 and 83 not out in the qualifiers and 25 against Pakistan. The side will also hope that his opening partner Soumya Sarkar strikes form to give the team a good start.
The biggest headache for Bangladesh is to get a suitable replacement for Taskin and Sunny.
Such has been the impact of their suspension that Mortaza broke down during a press conference when quizzed about the duo, insisting that the suspension has been harsh.
Mortaza’s breakdown was perhaps indicative of the low morale in the Bangladeshi dressing room even though the team did put up a creditable show during the loss to Australia.
On the brighter side, pacer Mustafizur Rahman made a fine comeback from injury to bag two wickets last night. He had missed missing the qualifiers and the Super 10 opener against Pakistan due to a side-strain injury incurred in the Asia Cup T20.
Wednesday’s game would be another test of his and Bangladesh’s resilience given that the team has always punched above its weight in major events.
India: MS Dhoni (captain and wicketkeeper), R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Mohammed Shami, Pawan Negi, Ashish Nehra, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh.
Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Mithun, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Tamin Iqbal.
Match starts at 7:30 PM.