India defeated Bangladesh in the warm-up match    Getty Images
India defeated Bangladesh in the warm-up match Getty Images

ICC makes sure India and Pakistan play against each other in its flagship tournaments. The waves the matches generate wipe all social media trends. The interest they generate takes their countrymen s patriotism to an unbelievable crest. After all, India versus Pakistan is the most intense contest of the game. There are older and more iconic contests, but few to match the sheer level of adrenaline. However, slowly, unfortunately, the traction lost its spike. The clashes are not followed as religiously as it used to at one point. Wannabe fanatics who used to watch cricket only when these two teams met have moved on from its hyped, sensational promotion. Full cricket scorecard: India vs Bangladesh

The marketing department of ICC does not have to worry, though. There is a nation, not far away from India, who like playing or belittling, for a better and honest want of words them. From a Photoshopped image featuring a beheaded MS Dhoni or another depicting Virat Kohli as a cobbler, fans from this nation leave no stone unturned to bury India under a barrage of trolls. That said, they do not match the on-field rivalry that Pakistan induces but they instead do it online. Granted, their cricket team has nothing to do with the internet antics, but their contests against India do not fail to attract eyeballs. This is Bangladesh we are talking about, a team that had attained a feat that Pakistan has not: beating India in World Cup.

But this is ICC Champions Trophy, a tournament of lesser magnitude, that will see India and Bangladesh battle at Birmingham in the all-important semi-final II of the 2017 edition.

The roadmap

When India and Bangladesh had locked horns in a warm-up contest, India had obliterated Bangladesh by 240 runs. Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, and Hardik Pandya had scored fifties, while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav s three-fors had demolished the Bangladesh batting.

The same cannot be expected in the semi-final. The dynamics will be different. The approaches will be different. The teams will be different. Everything, absolutely everything will be different.

Bangladesh were No. 6 in ICC ODI Rankings when entered the tournament, ahead of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They faced Australia, New Zealand, and England in the group stage. The first of these were the finalists of the 2015 World Cup; the third were the clear favourites.

Bangladesh lost to England despite putting up a mammoth 306. Rain came to their rescue when Australia were cruising to a definite win.

Their last game was against New Zealand, a do-or-die contest. After stuttering at 33 for 4 in a 266-run chase, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmadullah scored a century each and pulled off the unlikely against all odds to take Bangladesh to their first ever semi-final of an ICC tournament. There, that very fact makes Bangladesh a dangerous side. They may not be as spectacularly predictable as Pakistan, but they are giant killers nonetheless.

India, on the hand, faced a solitary defeat, against Sri Lanka. Before and after that, they reduced Pakistan and South Africa respectively to nothingness.

India are favourites, you think?

Team composition

The team played really well. It was a complete performance and I certainly don t feel that there is any need to change, Virat Kohli told reporters ahead of the game.

It makes sense. Shikhar Dhawan is the highest run-scorer of the tournament. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah bowl well in tandem. Ravichandran Ashwin is back where he belongs. Ravindra Jadeja is at his outrageous best, saving runs. Rohit Sharma and Kohli himself continue being delightful batters. MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, the veterans, are happy with the space they are given. If anything, there are not any signs of glitches in the playing XI Kohli hinted at.

Likely XI for India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (c), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah

Tamim Iqbal has scored at 74.33 in the tournament. Everyone is aware of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmadullah s heroics. Mustafizur Rahman has not had the best of times but he is often ominous against India (he had taken 13 wickets in his maiden 3-ODI series against India). Then there is Mushfiqur Rahim, who has been inexhaustibly energetic behind the wickets. However, they have not been as clinical the way India have been.

Likely XI for Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmadullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman

Gameplan

Bangladesh have bowled the least dot balls (229) in the tournament. That is not good news. Given that the average score at Edgbaston for sides batting first is 287, they have to plug the holes in the in-field and bowl to one side of the wicket. After all, India had plundered 319 for 3 in 48 overs at the same venue against Pakistan and their win-loss ratio reads 2, that is, they have won 6 of their 9 ODIs here.

To make matters worse for Bangladesh, their average score reads 67 in death overs compared to India s magnificent 118 in this edition. With ball India are way, way better in death: they have conceded 5.77 compared to Bangladesh s 7.95.

(Stats input by Abhishek Kumar)

Quote unquote

First thing is we re playing also first time in our life to semifinal, so that is also a fact, and also if it s pressure, I think India got more pressure than us because the huge population is there, and people love cricket in India a lot. Even Bangladesh, also. Both teams have a lot of expectations, says Mashrafe Mortaza.

Bitter truth

Top-ranked South Africa are out. Neither Australia nor New Zealand could win a game. Pakistan thrashed favourites England in the semi-final. Come to think of it, the favourites and the giants have all fallen one by one. That leaves India and that too against Bangladesh. It is tough to decipher the code as to why the favourites have all bowed out. It is tough to draw conclusion as to how the second semi-final will pan out.

Going by the trend, Bangladesh should be through. They should face Pakistan in the final. Going by the numbers, history, and potent, India will play their fourth final. No, wait. This is an annoying brainer.

Can Bangladesh avenge the one-run defeat in the 2016 World T20? Will Mushfiqur finally celebrate after winning a match? Can Bangladesh do to India what they did in the 2006 World Cup? Can Tamim Iqbal emulate his genius? Can they? Will they?

The script is difficult, painfully difficult to conclude.

Squads:

India: Virat Kohli (c), MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Kedar Jadhav (wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mosaddek Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Sanzamul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Taskin Ahmed