Feroz Shah Kotla, New Delhi
November 3, Sunday; 19:00 IST
The main picture
It’s on! Bangladesh’s tour of India is indeed going ahead as scheduled. First, the Bangladesh players’s strike, led by the now-suspended Shakib Al Hasan, put the India tour in doubt. Once the players called off their strike after holding talks with the Bangladesh Cricket Board, focus turned to the hazardous level of pollution in Delhi, where the first Twenty20 International of the series is scheduled, and if that might force Sunday’s match to be abandoned. While the latter remains a sensitive matter with the Air Quality Index crossing 500 and falling in the Severe category a day before the match, the touring Bangladeshis, according to their coach Russell Domingo, “have dealt with it [the pollution] really well”. Speaking at the press conference on Friday, Domingo said his team would have to approach and play the match as they normally would.
Coming to the cricket and the series itself, we don’t quite know what to expect, mainly because of the events that have unfolded in Bangladesh cricket in the last 10 days. Are the players mentally ready to play the series so soon after a acrimonious few days which included putting cricketing activities on hold over dispute with the Board? How are they coping with the news of Shakib being handed a two-year ban? Regarding Shakib, coach Domingo said the players who are part of the squad are a “bit disappointed”. He elaborated that Shakib is a very close friend of a lot of the players, who, as a result, are affected by the punishment handed to him.
Shakib is not the only big absentee from the touring party. Opening batsman and senior player Tamim Iqbal has pulled out of the tour to be with his wife for the birth of their second child, while all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin is an injury-enforced absentee. It makes Bangladesh, who will be led by Mahmudullah for the T20I series starting tomorrow, significantly depleted and needing inspiration from within to break their T20I duck against India.
India’s squad itself has a debutant and three other players returning to the national side after a gap, while regular captain Virat Kohli is off on a break. On the positive side, the core of India’s T20I side is very much intact, the returning Sanju Samson has been among the runs for India ‘A’ and Kerala, Shivam Dube has earned his maiden national call-up on the back of solid performances for India ‘A’, and importantly, the India players are in a better headspace than their Bangladesh counterparts.
India, though, are looking to evolve as a T20I side and have not been the most consistent in the format. While they whitewashed West Indies in the Caribbean in August this year, they have lost an away T20I series to New Zealand, a home series to Australia and only managed to draw the last home T20I series, which was against South Africa, in 2019. It’s an indication that they are not as formidable in this format as they are in the other two, though the team management and Kohli are aware of the team’s shortcomings that must be overcome with less than a year left for the T20 World Cup in 2020.
The three T20Is against Bangladesh provide India with another opportunity to find the rhythm that could bring them more success in the shortest format. Talking of opportunities, Shikhar Dhawan needs runs having had a barren run in the format this calendar year, and Rishabh Pant can answer his critics with a substantial score or two. India have most of their bases covered, though what sort of a playing combination the team management go in with is a matter of intrigue.
Feroz Shah Kotla pitch report and weather forecast
The pace and bounce of the pitch here have tended to slower and lower, and you can expect the pattern to continue for the first T20I tomorrow. Dew is likely to be a factor and one that could sway the captain winning the toss to field first.
The forecast says that Sunday will be clear, though mentions the air quality to be very unhealthy.
India vs Bangladesh 1st T20 playing 11
Predicted India playing 11: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 KL Rahul, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 Manish Pandey/Shivam Dube, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Washington Sundar, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Khaleel Ahmed
Possible Bangladesh playing 11: 1 Mahmudullah (c), 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Liton Das, 4 Mohammad Mithun, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Afif Hossain, 8 Abu Hider, 9 Arafat Sunny, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
India vs Bangladesh 1st T20 prediction 2019
Bangladesh are without arguably their most important player, but they are not entirely lacking in experience or quality to not be able to compete against India. Of course, their senior players (Soumya Sarkar, Mahmuduallah and Mushfiqur Rahim) must contribute more in Shakib’s absence and take responsibility when they are put under pressure. But from Bangladesh’s perspective, belief and handling emotions are the keys to their success.
When and where to watch?
The first India vs Bangladesh T20I is being broadcast on the Star Sports network.