Match date: March 14
Venue: R Premadasa Stadium, Colombo
India stumbled at the start, but midway through the Nidahas Trophy tri-nation Twenty20 International tournament, they have shown just why they had been anointed pre-tournament favourites. They were “caught by surprise” – in Shardul Thakur’s words – against Sri Lanka in the opening match, but since then they have beaten both the hosts and Bangladesh convincingly.
A win on Wednesday (March 14) in the return tie against Bangladesh will assure India of a spot in the final beyond any doubt, though with a healthy net run-rate of +0.210 and four points, they have a foot in the door already.
India have come into this tournament with several first-choice players rested, but those picked have grabbed their opportunity. The batting has been efficient, with Manish Pandey showing his repertoire and Shikhar Dhawan’s stellar white-ball form continuing. Dinesh Karthik is yet to be dismissed in three visits to the crease, and the only point of major worry is that Rohit Sharma, the captain, hasn’t got a big knock yet. The bowlers have hunted together, chipping in with vital wickets when necessary while keeping the scoring rate in check. Washington Sundar’s economy rate in particular has been outstanding, while Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat lead the wicket-takers’ charts.
For their part, Bangladesh will be energised after chasing down Sri Lanka’s 214 the other night. Mushfiqur Rahim laid some ghosts to rest by helming a chase successfully and staying till the end, while the rest of the batting line-up also made vital contributions.
Like India, Bangladesh are also not at full-strength with Shakib Al Hasan’s absence leaving big shoes to fill. While the batting stepping up collectively has lifted the team, Shakib’s absence is more keenly felt with the ball, where his parsimonious ways would have been a valuable source of control in the middle overs. If Bangladesh’s bowlers can emulate their batsmen, there is no reason why they can’t upset India, with the T20 format having shown numerous times that pre-match favourites are fleeting.
Washington Sundar: He has four wickets, only one less than Thakur and Unadkat, but Washington’s economy rate has been the game-changer for India. He’s bowled his full quota of four overs in all three matches and gone at only 6.00 runs per over, the lowest in the tournament. Batsmen have found him very difficult to score off, and the pressure he has built has created a knock-on effect through which India have gained immensely.
After the stirring win against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh will be tempted to not make any changes. India too seem to have got a winning combination together, so there isn’t any over-riding reason to ring in changes. KL Rahul deserves another go after having replaced Rishabh Pant in the last game.
“Those guys have been playing well. They lost in their first game of the series, it generally happens, it can go either way. But from what I’ve seen in their previous games, Bangladesh have been batting well. There is nothing different, we just want to keep bowling good balls to our strengths.” – Shardul Thakur.