India face Bangladesh in banana-skin game, as semi-final beckons

Rishabh Pant against Bangladesh (Image: ICC)

For India, it was a World Cup to forget. They went to the 2007 World Cup (50-over format) in the Caribbean as one of the favourites, but lost their first group league fixture against Bangladesh. It eventually derailed their entire campaign and an early exit ensued. To this day, it remains arguably India’s most humiliating World Cup defeat.

Rahul Dravid was the captain of that side, and he returned home to the news that fans (read, fanatics) had burned his effigies. Circa 2024, and Dravid is back to the West Indies for a World Cup (T20 format), and his team will face Bangladesh in North Sound, Antigua, on Saturday.

Dravid is someone who likes to look forward instead of looking back. And yet, the game against Bangladesh could well be a matter of personal pride. This is a banana-skin game for India and the head coach would not like his team to slip.

Over the years, India have played some close matches against Bangladesh at World Cups; the closest being the 2016 World T20 Super 10 game in Bangalore, where MS Dhoni outran Mustafizur Rahman on the final ball to keep the hosts in the tournament. Bangladesh like to raise their game when they face India. But it needs to be seen if the ‘The Tigers’ of the current vintage have the skill set and the mental fortitude to pull off an upset.

India have played four completed matches at the ongoing T20 World Cup, and have won all of them. Winning is a habit and Rohit Sharma’s side will carry the momentum to the next game. A win against Bangladesh will see India qualify for the semi-finals and they are expected to get there with a Super Eights game to spare.

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Team India vs USA
Team India vs USA (PC: Debasis Sen)

Every silver lining, though, has a cloud and from India’s perspective, they would like to see their openers, Rohit and Virat Kohli, finding runs. Rohit has so far scored 76 runs in four matches at a strike-rate of 111.76, while Kohli has scored 29 runs in four games at a strike-rate of 87.87. His average is 7.25. On Thursday against Afghanistan, both got stuck on a Kensington Oval pitch that wasn’t very conducive to stroke-play. The team will not change the opening combination and Yashasvi Jaiswal will sit out, but it’s time for Rohit and Kohli to take the onus and ease pressure on the middle order.

Bangladesh were a bit lucky to reach the Super Eights. They survived by the skin of their teeth against Nepal and in their first Super Eights game against Australia, they could only manage 140/8 on a pretty decent surface. In fact, batting has been Bangladesh’s problem area. Apart from Shakib Al Hasan, only Towhid Hridoy has batted in a way in the middle order that inspires confidence. The team has a good young leg-spinner in Rishad Hossain, but overall, Bangladesh’s bowling lacks the cutting edge.

The pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is expected to be batting-friendly and India very likely will go in unchanged.

Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, ICC T20 World Cup 2024
Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka, ICC T20 World Cup 2024 (PC: Bangladesh Cricket/X)

Match details

June 22, North Sound, 8pm IST


India (possible): Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav.

Bangladesh (possible): Tanzid Hasan, Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto, Shakib Al Hasan, Towhid Hridoy, Mahmudullah, Jaker Ali, Rishad Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Tanzim Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman.

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