The popularity of cricket started to grow rapidly in Bangladesh following India’s triumph in the 1983 World Cup.
After England’s clinical performance against India, Bangladesh’s semi-final chances are slim, but an upset over rivals India will put the pressure back on the Poms before they encounter the Kiwis.
India will be looking to bounce back with a win but playing two games in three days is no mean feat, as Afghanistan found out a week ago, backing up a near upset against India in Southampton with a thrashing at the hands of the Tigers two days later.
Forget the last time these two sides met in the World Cup – the last time they faced off in an ODI it was the greatest one-day game I have ever witnessed.
With no Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan due to injury, Bangladesh went into the 2018 Asia Cup final severely under-strength, although India didn’t have Virat Kohli for the whole tournament as he was rested.
Opener Liton Das announced himself on the world stage with his maiden century, but no one apart from him, Mehedi Hasan and Soumya Sarkar scored more than 20 as Bangladesh were bowled out for 222. Bangladesh kept on plugging away with wickets whenever the game was seeming to get away from them but the Indians held their nerve under pressure, winning the trophy off the final ball.
As usual, the onus will be on two of Bangladesh’s top four to deliver the goods with the bat. Tamim Iqbal seems to be getting some runs lately, but his slow start and dot ball pressure is causing his opening partner Soumya Sarkar to go harder than required, leading to Soumya failing to convert his quickfire starts.
Tamim needs to rotate the strike in the powerplay overs more often to ensure Soumya faces as many deliveries as possible to take advantage of the fielding restrictions and to give Bangladesh a good start.
Shakib Al Hasan has loved batting this tournament, averaging 95 and failing to score a half century only once. Talk about consistency from the man. He’s the key wicket for the Indians and if he gets going, there’s no stopping him.
Mushfiqur Rahim backed up his ton at Trent Bridge with a crucial 83 on a tricky surface. He’ll also be looking to put India’s bowlers under pressure as he’s the second best player of wrist spin in this side after Liton Das.
For this game, my key bowlers for Bangladesh are their spinners. Rohit Sharma mentioned the Edgbaston pitch got slower as the game went on and with a used pitch set to be utilised, the Bangladesh spin trio of Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan will be licking their lips.
On pitches that hold up a little bit and force batsmen to create their own pace, they know how to choke the batsmen into forcing them to make a mistake and giving their wickets away.
But do not count out seamer Mustafizur Rahman. His off-cutters will be very effective on this pitch and he took 11 wickets in his first two ODI games on sluggish pitches. Bangladesh have never lost a game when he has taken three or more wickets and hopefully from a Bangladesh perspective, the same thing happens again.
India’s reliance on the top three has been shown once again throughout this World Cup. The loss of Shikhar Dhawan is visible with KL Rahul only scoring one half-century since he slotted in as opener.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli will have to ensure that a top order collapse does not occur and their middle order doesn’t get exposed earlier than expected. They still don’t know who their No.4 batsman is, having tried out three players at the position. But it looks like Rishabh Pant will get the nod, but his patience will be tested on a wicket not conducive to stroke play from the get-go.
India has some world-class bowlers and they will test Bangladesh, but following the battering every bowler bar Jasprit Bumrah copped against England, their confidence will be slightly dented, especially wrist spin duo Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav.
Captain Virat Kohli will be looking at Bumrah as his strike weapon once again and if Mohammed Shami improves his death bowling against the Tigers, then Bangladesh will find it hard to target one of their front-line bowlers as they are all wicket-takers.
India clearly start favourites in this match but they will be wary of an upset, especially after an under-par performance against the Poms. Although this is a must-win game for Bangladesh, there is no pressure on them as hardly anyone backs them to make the semis.
Bring on the Indians!