As India gear up to lock horns with Bangladesh in a three-match T20I series, starting on 3 November in Delhi, former Australian cricketer Dean Jones said that the men in blue need to have “four pillars of strength” if they want to be a successful T20I side.
When compared to Tests and ODI’s, India have not been that dominant in the shortest format of the game, a fact that becomes evident from their rankings. They are second to none in Tests and only trail world champions England in the ODI rankings but find themselves No 5 on the T20I table.
When asked about the areas of improvement for India going into the next year’s T20 World Cup, Jones said: “I think you need to have four pillars of strengths. The number one pillar in any T20 team is the death bowler. You’ve got (Jasprit) Bumrah. So, who is the other bowler who’s going to help bowl at the death? Will it be Deepak (Chahar) or Khaleel (Ahmed)?"
"The second pillar is the top three batsmen who can hit boundaries in the first six overs or bat with a strike rate of over 130. You’ve got Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. At number three, who’s your all-rounder? Of course, Hardik (Pandya), he’s been rested. This gives a golden opportunity to Shivam Dube to come in."
"As the fourth pillar, you need a spinner that can spin it both ways. Is it going to be (Yuzvendra) Chahal or someone else? Now, this is where questions will be asked in the next two to three T20 series that are coming up."
On the other hand, a lot has transpired for the Bangladesh cricket team in the build-up to their India tour. It all started with the players’ strike, which was eventually called off after the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) assured that the demands of national cricketers, including a pay hike, will be fulfilled.
Later, on the eve of their departure to India, the team suffered a big blow after the ICC handed a two-year ban to celebrated all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan for failing to report three corrupt approaches. One year is a suspended sentence for Shakib – meaning that he would not only miss out on the India tour but also the World T20 and the IPL next year.
For a vastly experienced player like Shakib, one obviously thinks that he should have spoken up earlier. Jones was of a similar view. “Bangladesh will be disappointed with him (Shakib). He is arguably the most loved sportsperson in Bangladesh. For every series that we go, we get told by anti-corruption units to speak to them and listen to what they have to say. The education is there for the players, it’s in their face. But they have to take ownership. Even the silliest thing that has been said to them, they should just report it,” the Australian told Firstpost.
While the cricketing fraternity is still recovering from the Shakib episode, Jones pointed at the brighter side and said that this would be a “big opportunity” for the side’s young guns.
“If I were the coach, I’d say this gives a really big opportunity to say someone like Soumya Sarkar, Liton Das or Mushfiqur Rahim to stand up or for the spin attack to come through. Now, Bangladeshis are forced to give an opportunity to someone else. And I can tell you from experience, give an opportunity to a young guy, most of them grab it,” he said.
India and Bangladesh will also play their maiden day-night Test with the pink ball, starting 22 November at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. The dew factor and lack of exposure to the pink ball in a day-night set-up are some of the possible challenges that lie before the two sides.
Jones, a 'Select Dugout' expert on Star Sports, termed the day-night Test as “the future of cricket” and also shed light on how to overcome some of the format’s challenges.
“I think the day-night Test is a great initiative. It is the future of cricket. The dew factor is a major concern. But there’s a simple solution. If the ball gets wet, just change it. It ultimately comes down to the players to accept it and move on if they want to experience Test cricket at its best,” he noted.
Besides, he discussed the success of the format in Australia, where the first-ever day-night game was played between New Zealand and Australia in 2015.
"The ratings in Australia are massive. The day-night Test is up there as the most-watched sporting event in Australia. People’s lives have got busier and they find it very hard to watch Test cricket during the day. When they get back from work, they just want to escape reality and hence, the popularity,” he signed off.
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Fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi was instrumental in Pakistan's rally, returned figures of 5-32 to wrap up Bangladesh’s second innings for 157.
Ali was 56 not out at the end of play, adding to his first-innings score of 133, while debutant Shafique finished unbeaten on 53.
Catch the Live score and updates from Day 1 of the first Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan