Now, India will have to inject fresh life into the tournament and their shaky campaign with a strong show against Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium here on Thursday.
To achieve that, Indians will perforce have to improve their bowling at the death overs, their undoing in so many recent matches. Against Sri Lanka, the Indian bowlers came a cropper when Thilan Samaraweera and Thissara Perera went berserk in the batting power play, taken from the 44th over.
While attempting to bowl yorkers, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra sprayed the ball all around offering easy meat for the Lankan duo. The Bangladesh batsmen might not carry the same firepower, but players like Mohammad Ashraful, Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim are very much capable of springing a surprise or two.
There are hardly any chances of match timings getting advanced, so the Indians will have to be mindful of the dew factor and plan their strategies accordingly. Perhaps, they can take a leaf out of Harbhajan Singh’s effort on Tuesday night.
The off-spinner did not try anything fancy, but just concentrated on keeping a tight line and not allowing the batsmen too many liberties. Harbhajan was rewarded with three wickets, so there might be a lesson to be learnt from that effort.
Indian batsmen too will have to take some amount of blame for not capitalising on the starts. Virender Sehwag made a rollicking start, carting Lankan bowlers with his customary disdain but could not continue his merry ways.
Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni struggled to force the pace and finally succumbed to their frustrations, playing loose shots.
Yuvraj Singh played sensibly for his fifty. If the Punjab left-hander had managed to hang around for some more time India might have been able to garner a bigger total. The young tyros, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja, too will have to get their act together with the bat and a forceful show from them is essential for India’s further progress in the tournament.
Fielding, one of India’s main drawbacks in recent times, showed signs of improvement and they need to keep up the good work.
From the Bangladesh point of view, they will be hoping to revive that miracle day in the World Cup in the West Indies in 2007. With the toss playing a huge role in determining the fortunes of the teams, Bangladesh will be hoping that the coin will spin to their call.
The strong point of the home side is their batting with in-form Ashraful and skipper Shakib-al-Hassan leading their charge. Ashraful always had the talent, and the only ingredient missing was temperament. The diminutive right-hander displayed a welcome change in his approach, a willingness to graft, against Sri Lanka and the hosts’ think-tank will be hoping that the former skipper will continue with his matured ways. If their bowlers too rise to the occasion, Bangladesh can hope to peg the Indians back.
Umpires: Ian Gould, Enamul Haque, Third Umpire: Ibne Shahid.