With the T20 World Cup due next year, both India and Bangladesh will aim to find the perfect balance and winning momentum as they take on each other in three-match series starting on Sunday at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in New Delhi. India will be captained by Rohit Sharma, who is leading the side in the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli while Mahmudullah has been appointed as the skipper for Bangladesh after Shakib Al Hasan was recently banned by ICC for not reporting a corrupt approach.
Times are tough for Bangladesh as they are trying to bring back the focus on cricket after the suspension episode of Shakib. They are ranked ninth in the T20I team rankings and are not the favourites against India. Nevertheless, Bangladesh do have match-winners in their side and they can make significant impact.
Before the start of the series, here's a look at five Bangladesh players who can cause some damage to India:
If there's one player who can make wreck havoc in the top order, then it is Liton Das. The 25-year-old opening batsman can take his time in the middle but once he gets going, he can strike the ball really well. In 22 T20 International matches, Liton has the highest score of 61 and a strike rate of 138. At times, Liton can frustrate with his inconsistency, like in the recent T20I tri-series involving Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Afghanistan. He was getting the starts but failed to convert it into a big score.
Keeping the inconsistency aside, Liton has the potential, as he showed with a couple of good knocks at this year's ICC ODI World Cup. It will not be easy against the Indian bowlers but if he gets going, he should really look to make a big score. Bangladesh will be hoping their top order takes on the Indian bowlers for that to happen, a lot will be dependent on Liton.
The Bangladesh all-rounder has been given captaincy role for the T20I series after the ban of Shakib. Mahmudullah has the experience, he is a solid performer for his team and youngsters in the team look up to him. This is a difficult time to lead the team because after the recent happening in Bangladesh cricket. Mahmudullah will have his task cut out. Also, he's up against the mighty India and the team will be playing away from home. But, there's no reason why Mahmudullah cannot inspire his team.
The current skipper has been performing exceptionally well in the T20Is. In the last tri-series, he was the highest run-getter for his team, scoring 126 runs in four innings at a strike-rate of 121. Mahmudullah has developed quite a lot as a player, especially under previous coach Chandika Hathurusingha. He can now finish the matches with his big-hitting abilities, so there's no better batsman than him in the middle-order. There's no doubt about his quality, but if Bangladesh can pull off something special in the series against India, then Mahmudullah's credentials as a leader will also be recognised.
In terms of wicket-taking abilities, Mustafizur is right up there. The left-arm pacer has been playing international cricket for more than four years now and he has impressed many with his craft. He first came to the limelight in international cricket by picking five-wicket hauls in his first two ODIs against India. His ability to bowl cutters startled many good batsmen and it became the talk of the town. Later, injuries and form became his adversaries but Mustafizur can still pack a punch with his bowling.
Mustafizur has a benefit of playing in India during his stint in Indian Premier League (IPL). He knows the pitches and he can exploit the conditions. In T20Is, his bowling strike-rate reads 14.4, which is good, though, his death bowling has been a bit of a problem. Still, if he keep taking wickets, if keep breaking crucial partnerships, then Bangladesh will benefit immensely in the upcoming series.
Just like Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim will also have to step up after what happened to Shakib. As a senior player and being a good batsman, he has to guide his team and take responsibility in the batting department against a better quality side. He has played 81 T20Is so far and has a highest unbeaten score of 72. His record in the shortest format of the match is not eye-catching, but his team would need his experience, especially at this tough juncture.
Rahim needs to steady the ship if the top-order crumbles cheaply and then he should also look to finish the match. Sure, Mahmudullah is a better finisher but Rahim has to make sure his team is still in the game till the end. He loves a challenge against India, as it has been seen in the previous encounters against the neighbours. Now that things are going tough for the team, we might see Rahim all fired up and making big contributions for Bangladesh.
The 20-year-old all-rounder might be new to the international cricket, but he has shown a glimpse of his big-hitting prowess and it could come handy against India in the T20I series. Playing only his second T20I, young Hossain smashed a brilliant half-century to deny Zimbabwe a victory in September. His knock included eight fours and a six as Bangladesh won a thriller at Dhaka. Hossain can also chip in with his off-breaks, so that's also a big positive in his favour.
Apart from that sole fifty, he hasn't done anything significant but the series against India could prove to be a turning point in his career. If he can showcase his power-hitting more frequently, then it can open the doors of franchise cricket. He's still young and has a long way to go, but a few good knock in India can take him to the next level. Let's watch out for him
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