India thrashed Bangladesh by 6 wickets in their last face-off © AFP
India remain unbeaten versus Bangladesh in T20Is © AFP

India were caught by surprise in the opener of the Nidahas Trophy 2018, against Sri Lanka. However, they came back well to notch up back-to-back convincing wins, re-earning the ‘favourites’ tag for the tournament. Another win will seal their spot in the tournament final; that is what Rohit Sharma’s men will eye against Bangladesh at R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo. India will be up against an upbeat Bangladesh side that pulled off a historic win over Sri Lanka on Saturday, gunning down 215, the highest successful chase by a subcontinent side. In the absence of their best player Shakib Al Hasan, the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal rose to the occasion.

Bangla method

Their chase had a plan and method to it, which they lacked in their first match against India. They promoted Liton Das at the top to unsettle Akila Dananjaya and targeted vacant spots.

Stand-in skipper Mahmudullah warned that his side is looking forward to create “Bangladesh’s brand of T20 cricket … I think the skills are there. We need to be smart to take that calculated risk … Taking on a particular bowler who we think can be targeted, these sort of things we need to apply when we are playing. These things will give us that Bangladesh brand of T20 cricket.”

It is important that Bangladesh’s bowling complements their batting. The format is as much for bowlers’ as it is for the willow wielders. Mustafizur Rahman had tormented India enough at the start of his career. He needs to deliver this time with those cutters, backed by varied pace towards the death.

Taskin Ahmed’s form is a worry and he may end up losing his place to Abu Jayed. Mehedi Hasan and Nazmul Islam will have to step up in absence of Shakib in order to stifle the run flow during India’s middle overs.

Bangladesh’s Likely XI: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah (c), Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Jayed, Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Islam

Hungry Rohit and a step away from final

Less than three months back, Rohit launched a brutal assault on Sri Lankan bowlers at Indore to club a 43-ball 118. His bat has been silent since then. He failed in the South Africa Tests and was far from his usual self in the ODIs. In fact, since the Indore hundred, Rohit has scored 87 runs from 7 T20I innings at 12.43.

Rohit’s miserable run with the bat has been veiled by Shikhar Dhawan’s brilliance. Rohit will want the law of averages to take its course and if it turns out to be his day then Bangladesh will have to ready themselves for a mayhem.

Rohit bats in the middle-order for Mumbai Indians. With Bangladesh having Fizz in their camp, it won’t be a bad idea for the out-of-form Rohit to slide down to the middle-order and having KL Rahul open with Dhawan.

With Suresh Raina, Rohit, the in-form Manish Pandey and (yet to be dismissed in the series) Dinesh Karthik to follow, the middle-order wears a formidable look. Mind you, Washington Sundar and Vijay Shankar are all-rounders with some reputation.

India’s bowling has come a long way since the tournament opener. After starting with a 27-run over, Shardul Thakur has shown maturity and skills to stage a comeback. He and Jaydev Unadkat have led the pace attack well in absence of regular bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

“If other senior bowlers are missing from the team, then I have to step up. I have done this previously for other teams that I have played for. I have come in place of Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Ajit Agarkar while playing for Mumbai. I had to step up in that role. When senior bowlers are rested, I have to step up and fill that role to lead the pace attack,” Thakur told after his four-wicket haul against Sri Lanka on Monday.

Vijay Shankar has done well in the limited opportunities, while Yuzvendra Chahal has found another smart spin-bowling partner in Sundar. Even at 18, Sundar has a matured head over his shoulders. In all probability, Deepak Hooda and Mohammad Siraj will have to await their turns.

India’s Likely XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Vijay Shankar, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur, Jaydev Unadkat

Pitch and conditions

Expect another batting friendly surface at Premadasa. The weather, however, is a worry. Rain continues to be in the forecast. With a possibility of thunderstorm, DLS may have its final say and accordingly the teams should pick their XIs accordingly.

India hold a 6-0 head-to-head history in T20Is against Bangladesh. With their newfound zest, Bangladesh will be keen to down the under-strength India to add to their barren column.

Time: 1900 IST