IND v BAN neither a big-ticket fixture nor a David vs Goliath battle

Match facts

Date, venue and time: June 15 at Edgbaston, Birmingham; 10:30 AM local, 15:00 hours IST

The main picture

Reaching the knockout stage of another major one-day tournament is a strong evidence of progress from Bangladesh. If you ask me, reaching the semi-finals of Champions Trophy 2017 is a greater achievement than their reaching the quarter-final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. This is not a “World Cup” but the “Champions Trophy”, which is contested by the top eight teams and no team has any easy matches.

The Bangladeshis came into this eight-team tournament as underdogs, along with Pakistan and Srilanka. So, from that viewpoint, qualifying for the last four is something to be really proud of. The Bangla Tigers have been a touch fortunate to reach the semi-finals, but in an unforgiving tournament, what has happened to Bangladesh was not out of the question and is perfectly understandable now. Australia and New Zealand, make no mistake, were not good enough and Mashrafe Mortaza and co. sent Kane Williamson and co. packing, so, no, reaching the semi-finals hasn’t been a fluke.

Bangladesh have batted wonderfully so far in this tournament, except in their second Group B match against Australia. The senior pros, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, and Mahmudullah have led from the front with the bat and the batting has what gotten them this far. To go a step further in this tournament, the Bangladeshi batsmen ought to make their bats do the talking once again.

Mortaza and the team management had a difficulty in getting the bowling combination right. But the inclusion of Taskin Ahmed for the crunch match against New Zealand brought the desired rewards and the fast bowling quartet of Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin, and Rubel Hossain should ideally remain the same for Thursday’s semi-final against India.

India not only returned to winning ways on Sunday but the dominant win over South Africa will also have helped them regain their confidence, which must have taken a hit after the seven-wicket loss to Srilanka. India have played like an accomplished side so far in this tournament.

Team India go into the semi-final against Bangladesh as a settled side. We had doubts over their top order before the start of the Champions Trophy, but Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been in sublime touch so far. What makes this Indian one-day side a dangerous one is the fact that the batting isn’t even their greatest strength; the bowling is. The Indian bowling attack had a bad day against Srilanka but bounced back quickly for the virtual quarter-final against the Proteas. India’s fielding had been abysmal in their first two Group B matches, but they recovered on that front as well, on Sunday.

India v Bangladesh isn’t a big-ticket fixture, but few rivalries in world cricket are as intense as this one is. The Bangladeshis have developed a hatred towards the Indian cricket team and at least on a couple of occasions in the last two years, the players and the passionate cricket fans have acted childishly on social media. And given that much of the side who will face India have been part of the last five fixtures (three ODIs, one T20I and one Test), you can expect a really fired up Bangladeshi outfit looking to inflict a significant wound on the Kohli-led Indian side. However, Bangladesh might self-destruct if they try to be overly aggressive and become reckless.

India vs Bangladesh in Champions Trophy

These two teams will meet for the first time in a Champions Trophy encounter on Thursday (June 15).

Teams news and playing XIs

In case of no injuries and fitness issues on match eve, these two semi-finalists are unlikely to make any changes to their respective playing XIs.

The Bangla Tigers have batted superbly so far and require no changes in that department. Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes have failed to deliver at the top of the order, but Sarkar is expected to retain his place. The lack of potency in the bowling attack must have been a worry for the think-tank after the abandoned match against Australia. But Taskin Ahmed showed last Friday just why he should have played the first two matches too, by taking 2/43 in his eight overs.

Bangladesh’s probable XI vs India: 1. Mashrafe Mortaza (c), 2. Tamim Iqbal, 3. Soumya Sarkar, 4. Sabbir Rahman, 5. Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6. Shakib Al Hasan, 7. Mahmudullah, 8. Mosaddek Hossain, 9. Taskin Ahmed, 10. Rubel Hossain, and 11. Mustafizur Rahman

Almost every one of the Indian players is in form barring Ajinkya Rahane. This gives the team management the option to rotate players and make personnel changes if necessary. Umesh Yadav had one bad match and was immediately replaced with Ravichandran Ashwin for India’s do-or-die match against South Africa. Though the off-spinner didn’t have a massive say on proceedings, he did a reasonable job for someone who was back playing after a two-and-a-half-month gap.

Therefore, if India feel that the conditions necessitate another seamer to be played, they probably will and have the resources readily available. But with the conditions in England so far having proven batsmen-friendly and the Bangladeshi batting line-up having three left-handers in the top five, I do not foresee India making any changes to their playing XI.

India’s probable XI: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Rohit Sharma, 3. Shikhar Dhawan, 4. Yuvraj Singh, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Ravindra Jadeja, 9. Ravichandran Ashwin, 10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah

Both teams, as expected, unchanged from their victorious final group fixtures.




Prediction

With just three of the 12 matches so far having been won by teams batting first, batting first is no more a preferred option for teams other than New Zealand. Because India and Bangladesh are more comfortable with chasing down a target than setting one, the toss is likely to be a key factor in Thursday’s semi-final, though you still have to play well to win. India are everyone’s favourites to progress through to the Final, but Bangladesh have most bases covered too and if they play to potential, no reason why they cannot make their first major Final after reaching the Asia Cup Final at home in February 2016.




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