Favourites India face a resurgent Bangladesh in the second semi-final of the ongoing Champions Trophy 2017 in Edgbaston on Thursday. Despite India's superior strength on paper, Bangladesh could prove to be a formidable opponent for the 'Men in Blue' after their resounding win over New Zealand, and the general unpredictability of the tournament.
The story of the India-Bangladesh cricket rivalry can be described in their encounters in ICC tournaments. It all started with Bangladesh's stunning five-wicket win over India in the 2007 World Cup, which resulted in the latter getting knocked out of the competition in just the first round.
India though, pulled back with comfortable wins in the World T20 in 2009 and 2014, as well as in the 2011 World Cup. It was in the 2015 World Cup, hosted Down Under, where the rivalry further intensified, after the 'Tigers' were left seething over what they thought was the key wicket of Rohit Sharma denied to them, with the umpire calling it a no-ball. India though, went on to win the game by 109 runs.
The 2016 edition of the World T20 saw the two sides clashing in the group stage in Bengaluru. Bangladesh nearly pulled off the chase of the 147-run target brilliantly, needing two off the last three balls with four wickets in hand, before the 'Tigers' choked to a 1-run defeat.
That loss has been described by many in the Bangladesh cricket fraternity as 'heart-breaking', and even though captain Mashrafe Mortaza played down any talk of them walking into their first-ever Champions Trophy clash against India with a sense of grudge in their minds, memories of that game will surely be at the back of Bangladeshi minds, and will help bring their 'A' game out on Thursday.
India's domination of their last group game, in which they thrashed South Africa by eight wickets in an utterly one-sided match, highlighted their all-round excellence. The leader of the 'Men in Blue', Virat Kohli, returned to prime form with an unbeaten 76, and thus dispelling his critics who seemed to have found their voice again after his five-ball duck against Sri Lanka. Shikhar Dhawan continues to make the ongoing tournament his, moving to the top of the run-chart with a well-made 78.
With Kohli announcing an unchanged team for the second semi-final a day before the clash, Ravichandran Ashwin retains his place in the side after an economical outing against the Proteas — his first match of the eighth edition of the 'Mini World Cup'. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah produced excellent displays in the same game, tying the top-order batsmen up with an attacking line while returning in the closing stages of the innings to wipe the remainder of the South African batting lineup.
Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah produced Bangladesh's biggest, and one of their most memorable partnership across formats when they added 224 for the fifth wicket during their stunning five-wicket win over New Zealand, which helped keep them alive in the tournament before England's win over Australia sealed their place in the semis. The stand, in which Mahmudullah produced yet another scintillating performance with the bat in an ICC event, embodied the Bangladeshi spirit that has been a highlight of their rise in recent times in the sport.
Not many changes are expected in the Bangladeshi XI either. Despite a top-order failure in their last game against New Zealand, the 'Tigers' are likely to stick to the opening combination of Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar, with the former eyeing to make up for duck in the last outing after a fantastic start in the tournament. Pace sensation Mustafizur Rahman has had a lean patch in the tournament so far, and returning to his prime on a stage as big as this will only be ideal for him.
Indian bowlers' economy rate of 4.33 in the first 10 overs in the league stage was the best among all the teams in this tournament.
Yuvraj Singh's batting average of 46.14 in ICC ODI tournaments' knockout matches is better than his ODI career average of 36.84.
Rohit Sharma's batting average against Mustafizur Rahman in ODIs is 12.67. Mustafizur Rahman has dismissed him three times in ODIs.
Mashrafe Mortaza has taken 20 wickets in India-Bangladesh ODIs which is the most by any player.
India: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, MS 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 (c), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah Riyadh, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Mehedi Hossain Miraz, Mossadek Hossain, Sunzamul Islam, Shafiul Islam.
Time: 15:00 hrs IST; 09:30 GMT.
With statistical inputs from Umang Pabari