PUNE: As things stand, not even the most ardent Bangladeshi cricket fan will be fancying a shock win when their team takes on India here on Thursday. On the eve of the match, India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambreysaid all the right words about the team not taking any opposition lightly, executing their own plans and not looking at the other side.But given their current form, the home favourites are the team to beat at the moment and it will take some truly strange turn of events over the next 24 hours to conjure up a different outcome.
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It had happened 16 years ago and the only connection, and an ever so faint one at that, that can be traced to the latest face-off between the two sides in the World Cup is that India head coach Rahul Dravid might have a score to settle and bury the ghosts of Trinidad once and for all.
In the three World Cup encounters since then, Bangladesh have suffered at the hands of India’s batting superstars. First, on home soil, Virender Sehwag (175) and Virat Kohli (100) hammered them to submission in Mirpur in 2011. Then Rohit Sharma took over to smash two classy tons in 2015 and 2019.
If at all there are any headaches for the Indian team management, they are of the pleasant kind, like how to fit pacer Mohammad Shami into the scheme of things. Mhambrey, however, said in no uncertain terms that the think-tank was in no mood to tinker with the winning combination – however lethal the 33-year-old
Shami may be.
“I think it’s important to maintain this start. So as of now, there’s no discussion on rotation from our point of view,” the 51-year-old Mumbaikar said.
“Honestly, it’s never an easy decision. But we had a clear chat with him (Shami). When we select a squad, the message from us is very clear – we pick a squad that we feel is the best for the wicket. And I think sometimes you will miss out someone like him, or someone like Ash will miss out.
“That’s the communication we have with him. We are very clear. (It is a) difficult decision, honestly, even though with the quality that he brings to the team, with new ball and in the death. But you have to take that decision, you can only have eleven on the field.”
Yet, Mhambrey’s reasoning – about fielding the best eleven suited to the conditions – might be also why the hosts should be tweaking their combination a bit. Sharma and Co. have preferred to bolster their batting by including two allrounders and it is a choice they could reconsider. The Gahunje track has been traditionally friendly to batters with its reliable bounce and less movement off it. But it has also offers help to seamers when they hit the deck.
Besides, being an open stadium located far away from multi-storeyed urban jungle, the breeze could play a role too.