June 21, 2015
Venue: Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur
Start time: 14:30 hours, IST
Team India were given a wake-up call in the first ODI by an ebullient Bangladesh side who look a vastly improved unit from the one which lost to India in the quarterfinals of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup.
Bangladesh’s 79-run victory was a fair reflection of the game, in which the home side were better than their opponents across all three departments.
Though Mashrafe Mortaza’s men were at the top of their prowess, I thought they were helped by a lackluster Indian side that didn’t turn up for the contest at all.
If the visitors’ performance in the first one-dayer is anything to go by, they have vast improvements to make as a team and, given the momentum Bangladesh have at the moment, it is going to be far from easy for them to turn the series around.
Prior to the first game, I felt that Bangladesh’s batting was their weak link and in order for them to compete against India, their batsmen needed to turn up, which is exactly what they did on Thursday, thereby bridging the gap between themselves and their illustrious opponents.
However, having said that, it was also wonderful to see the Mortaza-led bowling attack harness the advantage of having 307 runs to play with and not let India’s strongest suit – their batting – stamp its authority on proceedings. In the quarterfinals of the World Cup, Rubel Hossain and company bowled well for the first half of India’s innings, but couldn’t stop the Men in Blue from making a recovery, getting past 300 and putting the game beyond Bangladesh’s reach.
Those two aspects of the home side’s win in the first game should stand them in good stead ahead of tomorrow’s second one-dayer.
Looking ahead to BAN v IND 2015 second ODI, which will also be played at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, can Bangladesh deal with the pressure of being on the cusp of their first ever ODI series win against India? And are we in for a backlash from the visitors, who confessed that they were extremely hurt by their poor display on Thursday?
BAN v IND 2015, Second ODI
The Tigers’ performance in the 1st ODI was one of self-belief and controlled aggression, aspects that were obtrusive throughout the 100 overs.
Illustrating them in detail: Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar started off Bangladesh’s innings in grandiose fashion, scoring quick runs and keeping the Indian bowlers at bay until the 18th over, in which Tamim was dismissed by Ravichandran Ashwin. The strategy to attack the Indian new-ball bowlers helped the home side get a stranglehold of proceedings.
However, the most crucial stage of Bangladesh’s batting innings was when Shakib Al-Hasan and Sabbir Rahman got together at the fall of Litton Das’ wicket. They had lost three quick wickets once play resumed after the rain interruption, and were in jeopardy of squandering all the good work done by the openers.
But both the batsmen stabilised the innings by stopping the procession of wickets early on in their partnership, and then accelerated at exactly the right time. That, for me, was pivotal to Bangladesh piling up 307 on the board and giving themselves more than a decent total to defend against a strong Indian batting line-up.
And when they came out to bowl, they again had to show character and steel after Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan gave India a solid start. They managed to make a strong comeback into the game during a 10-over period between the 16th and 26th over when India lost 5-38 and relinquished all chances of chasing down 308.
From Bangladesh’s perspective, the blueprint for the second game has to be the same, although they cannot control which way the toss goes.
I thought that the Mirpur wicket slowed down considerably when India batted, and massively helped the duo of Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib – in particular – whose bowling styles were rather conducive to the prevalent conditions.
The good thing for Bangladesh is the fine fettle most of their batsmen are in, giving them a great deal of confidence to go on and clinch the series by winning tomorrow’s game.
They surely have the better bowling attack of the two sides, and therefore, if the batsmen can deliver the goods, Bangladesh will give themselves a very good chance of pushing India all the way.
Coming to the team combination, I would be very surprised if the hosts make any changes to their playing XI from the first one-dayer, which was a team effort and had almost every player making a positive contribution. Das playing as a pure batsman could be discussed in detail ahead of tomorrow’s game, as Mominul Haque, a better batsman than the 20-year old, is waiting in the wings and will provide more solidity to his side’s batting line-up boasting of at least four aggressive batsmen in the top order.
Form guide: WWWWL (results in the last five matches, most recent first)
Bangladesh as a team must be in a positive frame of mind after four comprehensive victories in their last four ODIs played at this very venue, against Pakistan and now India.
They seem less vulnerable to imploding in games, and such an attribute has been crucial to their improvement as a limited-overs’ outfit in the last couple of months; no reason why the good things can’t continue happening.
Mortaza and his troops do not have any particular weaknesses, as they seem to have conquered their propensity to capitulate as a batting line-up, and in the bowling department, the likes of Rubel, Taskin and Shakib look in good rhythm and will look to continue their good bowling form.
Suresh Raina, who is one of the senior pros in the current Indian side, in the aftermath of the defeat in the first one-dayer was quoted saying that “we’re hurt but still a better side”, meaning that a few egos in the Indian dressing room have been bruised and we await to see the effect it has on India when they step onto the field tomorrow.
It all seemed strange from the way India played on Thursday, when they lacked purpose and failed to make things happen during their display. Let us not forget that this is the same Indian side which proved its critics wrong at the last World Cup Down Under, where they registered emphatic wins over South Africa and Pakistan in the group stages of the competition and then lost to an irrepressible Australian side, which went on to win its fifth World Cup in history, in the semifinals.
Now, let us not take the credit away from Bangladesh, by saying that India didn’t play well. But the nature of the Indian performance left a lot to be scrutinised and, as a result, tomorrow’s game will be a test of India’s character as much as their pedigree as one of the better ODI sides in the world currently.
India’s bowling performance in the first one-dayer was shambolic, as you expect the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma to bowl better than they did, even though Tamim and Sarkar played aggressively and forced mistakes from them.
You could accept the lengths, which were just back of a good length, they bowled, but the line of attack was simply not right. The question for Dhoni is whether his bowlers can recover from their poor displays on Thursday, because I fear for all the Indian seamers, who were dealt with nonchalantly by the Bangladeshi batsmen.
For the amount of talent there is in this Indian side, you would think that changes in personnel aren’t necessary after one poor display. But, having said that, it is hard to see Dhoni and India benefiting from playing the same side which lost on Thursday. Putting myself in the Indian captain’s shoes, I would bring in Axar Patel for Mohit or Bhuvneshwar, as the Mirpur wicket does provide assistance for the spinners, and Dhoni, too, likes playing around with the tweakers.
The batting line-up doesn’t command changes, but the Indian batsmen ought to find a way to put the Bangladeshi bowlers under pressure. Virat Kohli has failed in his last two outings (with scores of 3 and 1, respectively) against Bangladesh, and India need him to come back into form soon. Also, Dhoni is seriously struggling as a batsman who looks clueless on how to pace his innings, and the visitors cannot afford to have their two top batsmen in such an appalling vein of form.
Going into the tomorrow’s game, India need to show energy on the field and remind Bangladesh of who the real boss is.
Form guide: LLWWW (results in the last five matches, most recent first)
The partnership of Rohit and Dhawan looks in good nick at the moment, and will need to provide India with another good start tomorrow. Rohit seems to be relishing this format of the game, to which he has a wonderful batting approach and the repertoire to anchor the Indian innings if need be. Dhawan, considering the technique he possesses, will enjoy the batting conditions in Mirpur, but needs to harness the starts he gets.
India’s weakness is definitely their bowling attack, which seems to have lost the rhythm it bowled with, in Australia. The question is whether they want to bring in another spinner for a seamer, possibly in place of Mohit, who was woeful in the last game, going for 45 in his four overs. But even then, a change in personnel may not provide them with anything different to what they already have.
Secondly, as aforementioned, Dhoni’s form is a major concern. He had a poor Indian Premier League (IPL) season, in which he struggled to score runs quickly and, as a batsman at No.6, that is the difficulty he needs to overcome quickly.
Both teams do not have injury concerns from the last game and the hosts are expected to play with the same playing XI which delivered them imperious success on Thursday.
From the visitors’ point of view, there is at least one change to expect in the bowling department, though it is tough to say whether Dhoni will change it up after just one game, given the sort of captain he is.
Weather and Pitch conditions
There is the possibility of a thunderstorm in Mirpur tomorrow, but nothing to fear as far as getting a game is concerned.
Coming to the Mirpur pitch, it played well in the first one-dayer, despite getting a bit slow in the second innings. The possibility of the wicket slowing down again in the second half means that the captain winning the toss will look to bat first again tomorrow, and also because there is little chance of swing in the air or off the pitch during the afternoon.
Team India have played 20 ODIs in Mirpur since 2007, winning 13, losing six and the other game being a no result.
Kohli holds the record for the highest score – 183 – by an Indian batsman, achieving the feat against Pakistan in an Asia Cup match in 2012.
Stuart Binny holds the record for the best bowling performance – 6/4 – by an Indian bowler at this venue, during India’s tour of Bangladesh in 2014.
India’s highest score – 370/4 – at this venue came against Bangladesh in the inaugural match of 2011 ICC Cricket World cup.
Overall, there have been 86 games played at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, with the side batting first winning 37 games and the chasing side winning 48 games, and one game getting washed out.
It would be very surprising if we do not see an Indian backlash after Bangladesh humiliated them man-to-man in the first one-dayer. From the home side’s point of view, it is still going to be a test of their nerve because, as aforementioned, they are on the verge of winning their first ever ODI series against the Men In Blue.