World Twenty20 hosts Bangladesh return to action against the in-form Indians who are looking to make it three tournament wins out of three as the Super 10 groups heat up.
A victory would see India gain one foot in the semi-final door, while Bangladesh face an all-or-nothing battle at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur.
Date: Friday, March 28
Time: 1:30 p.m. GMT/9:30 a.m. ET (7.30 p.m. local)
Live on: Sky Sports 2
India top the Super 10 Group B standings after emerging victorious through two tough tests against Pakistan and West Indies thanks in part to their bowling, which has always been a weaker link.
Though batting is where India really come into their own, their bowlers set them a great foundation from which to build in both matches—summed up by the India Cricket Team graphic of Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s deliveries to Windies hot shot Dwayne Smith via Twitter:
Amit Mishra has also impressed with the ball over India’s opening matches, taking two wickets per game and conceding just 40 runs along the way. His performances earned him both man-of-the-match awards from India’s opening fixtures, setting a new national record according to BBCI on Twitter:
The nature of the Sher-e-Bangla pitch means that the leg breaker may once again have a big part to play on Friday evening.
With the bowlers in fine fettle and Rohit Sharma and Co. impressing with the bat, Bangladesh are likely to face an uphill battle from the offset if their form continues.
The tournament hosts were swept aside by the West Indies in their opening Super 10 group match after being embarrassed by minnows Hong Kong in the qualifying stages.
Against the Windies, Bangladesh never got going in a match riddled with errors and were disappointingly bowled out for 98 while chasing 171—not that the majority of the home support stuck around long enough to see the final wicket fall.
Ahead of Friday’s clash, fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza spoke of his side's need for improvement to BCCI’s official website, reported via Yahoo! Eurosport:
"We have lost the (last) two games pretty disappointingly. We want to play well, fight as much as we can. We will play to win for sure, but above everything else we have to start well."
Mortaza is amongst a strong crop of Bangladesh players looking to save their tournament against the Indians, but they’ll need a dramatic improvement if they’re to pose the 2007 winners any problems.
Amidst the controversy of home fans being banned from bearing rival flags, it seems that the urgency for quality cricket has gone out of the window, as journalist Faizan Lakhani notes via Twitter:
Bangladesh should seriously concentrate on improving standard of its Cricket team, instead of banning fans from carrying flags. #WT20— Faizan Lakhani (@faizanlakhani) March 25, 2014
Bangladesh will need big performances from the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and captain Mushfiqur Rahim. And by big, I mean enormous, because if they keep up their current form, this tournament will slip by them in a flash.
The batsmen don’t possess enough explosion in their play to trouble India’s bowlers, while Bangladesh’s bowlers are far too inconsistent and will be picked off throughout the Indian order.
However, if absolutely everything clicks for the hosts, then we may have a game on our hands.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s partnership of 106 against the West Indies on Monday is the second-highest total partnership for India in T20 history, per ESPNcricinfo.com.
According to CricketCountry.com, out of the six T20Is that Bangladesh have played at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, they have lost four and won just two matches.
As reported by OptaJim on Twitter, India are finding T20 form away from home of late, a stark contrast to their ODI form:
7 - India have won seven of their last eight T20Is away from home but two of their last eight away ODIs. Contrast. #wt20— OptaJim (@OptaJim) March 23, 2014
Bangladesh’s all out for 98 against the West Indies was their fourth lowest score in T20 history and only the fourth time that they’ve failed to break 100, via ESPNcricinfo.com.