Confident India to start as favourite against gutsy Bangladesh
Colombo, Mar 17 (PTI) A bitter, yet intense rivalry is expected to produce a cracker of a contest when a confident India take on a fiery Bangladesh in the final of the Nidahas Twenty20 tri-series, here tomorrow.
While the second-string Indian team recorded a hat trick of comfortable wins after their opening loss to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh reached the summit clash with couple of dramatic wins over the hosts.
In a tense encounter, in which they beat Sri Lanka last night, with Mahmudullah Riyadh rising to the occasion with a last ball six, will give the 'Tigers' immense confidence.
However, an angry Shakib Al Hasan's attempt to call the team off the ground and allegedly damaging of the dressing room by Bangladeshi players is a testimony that they still have some way to go as far as composure is concerned.
Unlike India's rivalry with Pakistan and Australia, there isn't any significant cricketing history attached to India-Bangladesh matches.
But since their 2015 World Cup quarterfinal defeat in Melbourne where they felt a few umpiring decisions went against them, the tiny nation of cricket fanatics consider India to be their biggest on-field rivals.
Ironically, then also it was a case of Rohit Sharma being caught off a waist high full toss, which was adjudged no-ball by the umpire. Bangladesh team and fans have not moved on since then.
Not to forget a crass advertisement "Mauka Mauka", which was aired before and during 2015 World Cup, something that Bangladeshi fans still consider as an insult.
During the same year, India lost an ODI series in Bangladesh and there were some objectionable photo-shopped billboards of Indian players' with heads half-shaved, put out across the streets of Dhaka.
For an average Bangladeshi fan, Indian cricket team is perceived as a big bully and the jealousy stemming from BCCI's financial clout, makes them treat every game against 'Men In Blue' as a grudge match.
Bangladeshi players' skills don't match their zeal always but there will be no inches given when the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim or Mahmudullah step onto the field.
However in terms of sheer talent, Indian team is a cut above their Bangladeshi counterparts.
Man to man, the opening pair of Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan have scored runs across the globe even though Tamim Iqbal and Litton Das are good on their day.
Dhawan has scored close to 200 runs in the tournament while skipper Rohit is back in form after an 89 off 61 balls against the same opposition in last group league match.
No one among the 22 players have more experience compared to Suresh Raina in the shortest format as Soumya Sarkar is no match for him.
Dinesh Karthik and Mushfiqur Rahim are on even keel as far batting is concerned although the Tamil Nadu glovesman has shown composure more often in pressure cooker scenarios.
Manish Pandey may not be as experienced as Mahmudullah in international cricket but Pandey's 10 years of IPL cricket holds him in good stead.
In the bowling department, Shardul Thakur has been steady and Washington Sundar's Powerplay bowling has been India's biggest gain from this tour.
Vijay Shankar has also been impressive but unlucky at times because of the number of catches dropped off his bowling.
However the only worry for India will be second specialist seamer. Both Jaydev Unadkat and Mohammed Siraj have proved to be expensive.
It will be interesting to see who among the two plays. It can also be that Axar Patel or Deepak Hooda used as additional spin bowling all rounder on a slowish track.
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan,, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Jaydev Unadkat, Yuzvendra Chahal, Vijay Shankar, Shardul Thakur, Rishabh Pant, Washington Sundar, Lokesh Rahul, Axar Patel, Deepak Hooda and Mohammed Siraj
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (C), Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Rubel Hossain, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar, Nazmul Islam, Liton Das, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Ariful Haque, Nurul Hasan, Abu Hider Rony and Abu Jayed