Indians ooze with confidence.

Dhoni's men take on depleted Bangladesh in crucial Super 10 Group 2 encounter today

Indians ooze with confidence.

Deflated by two defeats in as many matches and depleted because of the unavailability of two of their regular bowlers – pacer Taskin Ahmad and left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny – Bangladesh have a near impossible task of upstaging a formidable India in their World T20 Super 10 clash here on Wednesday.

Conspiracy theories have been floated around behind the timing of ICC’s ban on Taskin and Arafat (for illegal action) in the social media by Bangladeshi supporters while the team itself appears emotionally spent following the world body’s decision. Emotions, however, can’t be separated from Bangladesh cricket. While the team has taken impressive strides forward, especially in the shorter versions, in the last three-four years, the expectations from their emotionally-charged fans far exceed their potential.

One also has to remember that, probably with the exception of their maiden quarterfinal foray in the 2015 World Cup in Australia, majority of Bangladesh’s wins have come at home where dodgy pitches and a carefully-built seam bowling resources have flummoxed even teams like India and South Africa. Away from home, though, they still have to perform consistently.

While they breezed through the qualifiers, the story has been quite different in the tournament proper. Pakistan, who had lost to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup in Dhaka, hammered them in Kolkata on a good batting pitch while Australia scraped past here on Monday on a slow surface. It must be said though that the Aussies made it difficult for themselves by losing a clutch of wickets when their chase of 157 seemed all but over.

India will be quietly confident following their must-win game against Pakistan at the Eden on a treacherous surface. Despite Virat Kohli’s imperious form, the Indian top-order has struggled a bit whenever the pitch had assisted the bowlers. The Nagpur was a disaster while they survived some anxious moments before Kohli pulled off a masterpiece. The surface at the Chinnaswamy stadium, however, will not be nearly as devious but looking on the evidence of two matches here so far, it hasn’t been a typical featherbed either.

The spinners – West Indies’ Samuel Badree and Australia’s Adam Zampa – have relished the conditions here while the pacers have found some bounce and carry. The Indian openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, have failed to provide good starts in either of their two matches but they can fancy their chances on what promises to be a better wicket. Suresh Raina will hope to get some runs under his belt at a venue where he has had a fair amount of success playing against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The Indian bowling will be tested at Chinnaswamy where even mishits clear the short boundaries. Though it will be far from being the traditional belter, bowlers need to maintain certain discipline as Australia found out on Monday when Bangladesh collected 44 runs in the last three overs. R Ashwin will be the key again though pacers Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah have been consistently impressive both up front and in the death.

In the absence of the injured Tamim Iqbal, who continues to be doubtful, Bangladesh batting in the power play has been a bit patchy. The failures of the other opener Soumya Sarkar, who has just 62 runs from the last six innings combined, haven’t helped their cause either. Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza also needs to do more with bat and ball. He has taken just two wickets in the two matches at an average of 37 while he rarely gets to bat. He isn’t certainly the captain who leads from the front, not at least in this tournament so far.

There is also a small matter of playing India in India for the first time in nearly 18 years. The last time Bangladesh played the hosts was in May 1998 in a triangular series where they lost both their matches. Bangladesh of course are quite used to playing in front of big crowds at home but they will realise it will be a whole different ball game playing India in their backyard where the capacity crowd will be firmly behind MS Dhoni and company. Not to forget, it will be homecoming for the Royal Challengers’ skipper and the best batsman in the side – Kohli.
 

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