If there was anything hardly surprising that happened over the last week is Rohit Sharma-led Indian side's comeback victory in the second T20I against Bangladesh in Rajkot.
The eight-wicket win on Thursday was yet another routine performance from the hosts, albeit most of the runs coming from Rohit (85) and Shikhar Dhawan (31), who built a 118-run partnership for the first wicket in the run chase of 154.
That win was also like a friendly reminder to Bangladesh telling them to never to rest on their laurels.
Indeed, it was at Nagpur when India had crumbled to a total of 79 while chasing 127 against New Zealand in their horrific World T20 2016 opener, with Kiwi spinners – Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi – taking seven wickets.
However, with the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium having one of the largest outfields in India, the venue remains as one of the bat-first grounds. And understandably, teams who have done that have won eight of the last 11 T20I matches played at the venue.
And, despite the win in Rajkot, Rohit Sharma and team management, who will have their task cut out when they make the crucial decision to pick the bowlers from India’s inexperienced bowling attack for the series decider on Sunday.
The absence of premier pacers like Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and the want to test the bench strength hasn't provided ideal results. Yuzvendra Chahal has been by far the best positive takeaway in the India's bowling department this series, having registered economical spells of 1/24 and 2/28 in the two games so far.
Needless to say, skipper Rohit stressed on the importance of Chahal as a key bowler during the middle overs.
"He bowled well in the IPL, and then his performance got recognised and he was picked for the Indian team in the ODI format. Since then, he's been one of the important members of the squad, and he's proved that in this series, how important he can be in the middle overs,” he had said at the pre-match press conference.
With just 33 T20Is under his belt, which is more than any other bowler in the current squad, the third T20I will be another opportunity for Chahal to lead the young, new-look bowling attack.
Meanwhile, pacer Khaleel Ahmed has looked under the weather in the series, having conceded 81 runs in just eight overs over the two matches.
Khaleel held the ignominy of conceding seven consecutive fours across two matches when he began his spell in Rajkot, giving away three fours of his first three deliveries in addition to the four boundaries he had leaked in Delhi off his last four balls.
His woeful form could tempt team management to ponder over Shardul Thakur's selection as the hosts look to try out the bench strength.
If he does play on Sunday, it will be Shardul’s first international appearance in more than a year. His last T20I was also against Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy Final in March 2018.
From India’s batting point of view, however, it remains to be seen if Sanju Samson will get a game, especially after Rohit’s recent comments in the defence of the under-fire wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant.
"He is a young guy, 22, trying to make his mark in international cricket. Every move he makes on the field, people start talking about him. It is not fair. I think we should allow him to play his cricket which actually he also wants to do," the stand-in captain had said at the pre-match press-conference.
This could be a major indication of the hosts possibly deciding not to change their top-order and middle-order batting strategies, however, if India are too keen on trying out Samson, it might be KL Rahul, who could make way for the Kerala batsman wicket-keeper, who has not featured for the senior side in more than four years.
For Bangladesh, the bigger challenge will be on converting starts into big innings – something which most of the batsmen have struggled to do over the previous few matches.
Mushfiqur Rahim remains the lone half-centurion and a potential match-winner for the visitors in the series, but Soumya Sarkar has indicated that he could be a threat to bowlers after scores of 39 and 30 in the series.
Understandably, there will be an extra pressure on Soumya Sarkar to perform in the decider, especially after star man Shakib Al Hasan’s suspension from cricket.
Injuries have come back to haunt Bangladesh in the series, and Mohammad Mithun will likely take middle-order batsman Mosaddek Hossain’s place in the playing XI if the latter continues to struggle with the groin niggle he suffered.
While a T20I series-victory against fifth-ranked Indian side will definitely be a historic achievement for the Bangladesh side, it will be a deserved comeback victory if the hosts repeat their heroics of Rajkot.
India: Rohit Sharma (c), Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant, KL Rahul, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur.
Bangladesh: Mahmudullah Riyad (C), Taijul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Kumer Das, Soumya Sarker, Naim Sheikh, Mushfiqur Rahhim, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Aminul Islam Biplob, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Shafiul Islam.
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