India need to be on their toes against Bangladesh

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India need to be on their toes against Bangladesh

Posted on : Wednesday 14th of June 2017

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Birmingham: Professionalism will be pitted against passion when defending champions India clash with Bangladesh in the second semifinal of the ICC Champions Trophy, here on Thursday.

On paper, India are overwhelming favorites against their neighbors, but it will be foolhardy to count Bangladesh out of equation. Especially after their inspirational come-from-behind victory over New Zealand that paved the way for their semifinal berth.

India, after a clinical performance against South Africa, would like to maintain the same intensity against a team that could prove to be a proverbial banana peel for them.

Batsmen in form, bowlers on target and fielding top notch -- Virat Kohli's men have covered all bases so far -- and Mashrafe Mortaza and Co will have to pull off something really special at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground.

For India, nothing short of a place in the summit round will satisfy them while Bangladesh are on the cusp of what could be the biggest day in their cricketing history, if they manage to pull off a victory.

A victory for India will be par for the course for which they won't possibly get the credit that one gets for beating Australia, South Africa or England.

But a defeat will lead to unparalleled criticism from fans and critics alike with some of the uncomfortable behind the scene happenings (like the alleged Anil Kumble-Kohli rift) again raising their head.

It will be interesting to see if India retain Ravichandran Ashwin or bring Umesh Yadav back as his pace scared the Bangladeshi batsmen during their 240-run thrashing in a warm-up game.

In case of Bangladesh, their aim will be to repeat the performance of the 2007 World Cup opener in Port of Spain -- a red-letter day in their cricketing history - - when they stunned the Men in Blue.

Four members of that side -- skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal -- are stars of this current line-up.

Bangladesh beat India 2-1 in the 2015 home series, thanks to the then teenage sensation Mustafizur Rahaman and his deadly cutters.

The India-Bangladesh contests have never been short of drama -- thanks to the overtly passionate fans and media.

Bangladeshis treat cricket as more than a game. If cricket is religion in India, it's beyond that in Bangladesh. It's a getaway from all the worries of poverty, unemployment and other teething issues.

The 2015 World Cup quarterfinal against India at the MCG still sticks out like a sore thumb for the Bangladesh players and fans alike.

They still believe that Rohit Sharma was out as Rubel Hossain bowled a perfectly legal delivery which was termed a no-ball. One can't justify that given that even if 40 runs were deducted from Rohit's final score of 137, Bangladesh would have still lost that game.

The one-run defeat at Bengaluru in a ICC World T20 match last year still hurts them bad -- a testimony to which was Rahim's classless tweet after India's semifinal loss to the West Indies. The former skipper had to delete it after instructions from the Bangladesh Cricket Board.

Just man to man -- Bangladesh are no match for the Indian team despite having quality in their ranks.

The opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit are far better than Tamim Iqbal or Soumya Sarkar. However, Tamim has been in good form in the tournament despite a strike-rate in mid 70s.

No one in their dreams would compare Imrul Kayes or Sabbir Rahaman with Kohli's class.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a legend in 50-overs cricket where Rahim is still an inconsistent player. Mahmudullah is a gutsy match-winner, but Yuvraj Singh playing his 300th match is in a different league.

Mashrafe, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel and Mustafizur are a good attack on a given day and that's Bangladesh's best chance to upset India. But even there, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya can hold their own.

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

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahaman, Mahmudullah Riyadh, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahaman, Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hossain Miraz, Mossadek Hossain, Sunzamul Islam, Shafiul Islam.

Match starts at 3 pm IST

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