Bangladesh v India Fatullah Test
Team India are all set to take on Bangladesh in the solitary Test Match, which kicks off in a couple of days’ time and will be played at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah.
The tour of Bangladesh is India’s first assignment after their disappointing semi-final loss to Australia in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.Though this series may not render major implications for Virat Kohli and company, it presents them with an opportunity to grow as a Test side and assess their best combination in this format of the game.
In addition, with no disrespect to the hosts, Virat Kohli has a great chance to register his first victory as the official Test captain of Indian cricket team.
The hosts, though, are a dangerous side in their own right and, unlike their illustrious opponents, have no pressure of winning, which in turn gives them the license to go out and express themselves.
Their squad for this solitary Test match is filled with exuberant and talented youngsters, who will look at playing India as an opportunity to announce themselves on the world stage.
For most cricket fans, Bangladesh playing India may not cause much intrigue, but the contest, considering the visitors’ palpable weaknesses in the Test match arena, will definitely be closer than what people think.
The Indian selection committee led by Sandip Patil, have named a very strong side that does not have many changes from the one which toured Australia at the fag end of last year: Harbhajan Singh has replaced Suresh Raina, while Mohammed Shami is out injured and the spinning duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel have been left out.
Also, from the original 15-man squad named for the only Test against Bangladesh, Lokesh Rahul looks set to miss out due to dengue.
The Indian batsmen did well during the tour of Australia, notching up over 300 runs on five of the eight occasions they batted in the four-Test series.
Virat Kohli led from the front, scoring 692 runs to go along with four centuries from 8 innings. He was ably supported by Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 482 and 399 runs, respectively, providing that indispensable solidity at the top and in the middle-order.
Rahul was the only other batsman to score a century for India, who, in hindsight, may have made a better first of it had their bowlers showed more potency and not let Steven Smith, who bailed his side out of trouble on many an occasion during the series, score as many runs – 769 overall – as he did.
Going into the Test against Bangladesh, the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan will look to start scoring runs for the national side again, after enduring two barren series (if you include the tour of England, as well) from their respective point of views.
Rohit Sharma’s place in the playing XI remains uncertain, unless Kohli opts to play just four specialist bowlers, like previous Indian Test captains have done, or axes Pujara.
It will be rather intriguing to see what sort of playing XI the visitors go into the Test with, especially with a new skipper taking over the mantle from MS Dhoni, who captained India in 60 Tests, and proclaiming that he is going to be aggressive and bring a winning mentality to the Indian Test setup.
I would like to see the Delhi dasher start playing 5 bowlers from this Test onwards, emphasizing on picking 20 wickets to win Test matches.
In that case, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav would be my three fast bowlers, with Harbhajan and Ravichandran Ashwin as the two spinners to lead the way in sub-continent conditions.
You expect the Indian batsmen to score heavily, though the Bangladesh bowling attack cannot be underestimated and is capable of posing problems. The contest between India’s batting and Bangladesh’s bowling will be one to watch out for.
The hosts have not made any changes to their Test squad from the one that put up a brave fight against Pakistan last month, losing the 2-match series 1-0 as a result of two poor batting displays in the second Test.
Shahadat Hossain, who twisted his right knee during the 2nd Test against Pakistan, has not made it to the squad for the solitary Test match against India, while Mahmudullah Riyad is also set to miss the entire series including the 3 one-dayers due to a fracture on his left index finger.
It appears that Mushfiqur Rahim, Bangladesh’s Test captain, could also be out for the solitary Test with a finger sprain, which could dent the hosts’ batting lineup even further.
Most Bangladeshi batsmen scored runs against Pakistan and will look to carry that form into the Test match against India.
The middle-order, though, will have to be shouldered by Shakib Al Hasan, with Mahmudullah out and Mushfiqur uncertain to lead the side. If the wicket-keeper batsman does miss out, Tamim Iqbal will be the one to captain the team and Litton Das will keep wickets.
Imrul Kayes, the opening partner for Tamim, is a typical Test batsman, who will be key to his side keeping the Indian bowlers at bay. He is capable of blunting the new ball and holding one end up, which can, in turn, help the explosive batsmen in the side play their natural game.
If you exclude Tamim, Kayes and Shakib from the hosts’ batting lineup, the other batsmen – Soumya Sarkar and Shuvagata Hom – are novices at the Test level, having only played 8 matches between them, and that could have a major impact on the result of this game.
It is, therefore, important that Mushfiqur gets fit and leads the side, which will be of much boost to their batting lineup in particular.
Bangladesh’s bowling attack is inexplicably inexperienced, and much will depend on Rubel Hossain’s pace bowling with the new ball and Shakib’s left-arm spin bowling whenever he comes on to bowl.
Mohammad Shahid made his Test debut against Pakistan and gave a decent account of himself with both the bat and ball.
Taijul Islam, another left-arm spinner, was one of the star performers with the ball for Bangladesh when they played Pakistan, picking up 10 wickets in the 2-match Test series.
If Bangladesh are to make a match out of this, their batsmen have to stand up and score runs. Importantly, not capitulate. Their bowling attack, albeit not an impressive one, can match India’s; especially with the host of spinning options they have at their disposal.
Team India, unlike their efficiency in the shorter formats of the game, are not a good Test side by any means. Kohli taking over is a new chapter in the Indian cricketing history, and it remains to be seen if the change in leadership affects the team positively. Bangladesh, therefore, have to be brave while they bat and somehow post over 300, if they get to bat first, as bowling is the visitors’ weak link and still has question marks over its ability to pick 20 wickets in a Test match.