India need to guard against complacency

Defending champions take on Bangladesh in their opener

India are a far superior side in terms of talent and experience at the international level, and to top it, they are the defending champions. In contrast, Bangladesh still have not achieved anything significant – without forgetting some of those upset wins over the years – in the world arena.

So, it will be tempting to anoint India as favourites for Saturday’s game. But wait! This is T20 – the three-hour format of thrills and shocks galore, and the status of favourites could actually mean nothing, even burdensome at times.

The multiple tags of defending champions and tournament favourites make it mandatory for Indians to transform their first outing into a statement of their form and intent. However, the men in blue have the ability to come up with such a performance against Bangladesh.

India have the most balanced side in this competition packed with batsmen perfectly suited to the ultra-abridged version and bowlers having enough experience at the international level who can adjust to any conditions.

Here one sore point is the likely absence of Zaheer Khan, as skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni pointed out a couple of days ago that the team management does not want to risk him for the game against Bangladesh. If the left-arm paceman does not feature in the final eleven on the morrow, then Irfan Pathan, Rudra Pratap Singh and Ishant Sharma will have a job at hand of restricting Bangladesh.

The cold and windy conditions here might well suit their type of bowling if they abstain from experiments such as the one against New Zealand with not so pleasant results. Still, taking Bangladesh lightly could spoil the party as they had done in 2007.

The eastern neighbours may not have some huge names in their list, but players like Mohammad Ashraful and Tamim Iqbal have the ability to spring a few surprises. All-rounder Mashrafe Mortaza and left-arm pacer Sayed Rasel could be dangerous customers on their day, but it remains to be seen if do they actually have the firepower to stop the Indian batsmen from amassing a massive total.

Even without Virender Sehwag, India had hunted down Pakistan’s total with plenty to spare in the second warm-up match at the Oval on Wednesday.

The Delhi Dasher was a mere spectator during the net session on Friday, and that could be an indication of Rohit Sharma getting an extension as opener. The Mumbai lad has been in striking form since Indian Premier League II, and he had underlined his touch with two fine knocks in the warm-up games.

Yuvraj Singh, who did not get to bat in the practice games, too will be eager to come good on the morrow, and the Punjab left-hander hitting the straps will give India an added edge to their campaign.

If India had mixed fortunes in the warm-up games, Bangladesh went down to three big boys – New Zealand, Australia and West Indies – but they had managed to run Kiwis and Windies close. It could be a warning of sorts for India of the dangers of taking Bangladesh lightly.

With due respect to Bangladesh’s ability to fell the Goliaths, only the complacency factor seems capable of spoiling India’s day at this stage.

Teams (from):
Bangladesh: Mohammad Ashraful (capt), Abdur Razzak, Junaid Siddique, Mahamdullah, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mithun Ali, Mushfiqur Rahim, Naeem Islam, Raqibul Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Shahdat Hossain, Shamsur Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Syed Rasel, Tamim Iqbal.
India: MS Dhoni (capt), Gautam Gambhir, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Ishant Sharma, RP Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Pragyan Ojha, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan.
Umpires: Simon Taufel (Australia) and Billy Bowden (New Zealand). Third umpire: Nigel Long (England). Match referee: Chris Broad (England).

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