Defending champions India are oozing form coming into the quarterfinal tie against Bangladesh but MS Dhoni and Co. will not be taking their opponents lightly. The Tigers have peaked at the right time in the tournament and India will have to keep these 10 things in mind if they want to beat their neighbours in Melbourne on Thursday, March 19th:
1. Restrict Mohammad Mahmudullah
Mahmudullah has peaked for Bangladesh at the perfect time and restricting him will be the key. Riding high on confidence with back-to-back centuries against England and New Zealand, Bangladesh would suffer a set back if Mahmudullah walks back early.
2. A big opening partnership
Well begun is half done. If India manage to build a first-wicket partnership in excess of 100 runs, batting first or chasing a target would become very easy and put the Bangladeshi bowlers on the back foot. Shikhar Dhawan has been in fine nick but Rohit Sharma will have to find his groove.
3. Be wary of all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh stand-in skipper Shakib Al Hasan is a fearless cricketer and can turn the game on its head, both with bat and ball. Fresh from a 4-wicket haul against New Zealand, Shakib will have to play a crucial part if they are to spoil India’s party. So India should have a plan ready to tackle his off-spin and get him out early too.
4. Get Mushfiqur Rahim out early
Mushfiqur Rahim, the middle-order mainstay of Bangladesh, has matured a lot over the years. His knock of 89 against England proved decisive and it led to England’s premature ouster from the tournament.
5. Keep Sabbir Rahman silent
Rahman is another Bangladesh middle-order batsman who can damage India with his pinch hitting. Top scoring for his side with 53 runs against Sri Lanka and making a quick-fire 40 off 23 balls against New Zealand, Rahman is one guy who can hurt India in the slog overs.
6. Break partnerships
Bangladesh already have three 100-plus stands in the ongoing World Cup, which shows how well they have been able to apply themselves in the middle. If Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur managed to stitch a 141-run partnership against the England pace attack, it is ample warning that India too need to be at their best.
7. Be prepared for 5 regular bowlers
Bangladesh lost a close encounter against New Zealand just because they lacked a 5th bowler to wrap things up. But with their injury setbacks behind them, the Tigers will come into the match against India with 5 genuine bowlers. Cue for the Indian batsmen to be wary.
8. Move over ghosts of the past
India are a better team than Bangladesh on paper, any given day. However, it’s the team that plays well on a particular day that ultimately triumphs. India should not fret over their two previous encounters when Bangladesh trumped them at crucial junctures (2007 World Cup and 2012 Asia Cup).
9. Improve batting in slog overs
Despite solid starts, India have failed to pile on the runs in the death overs. The likes of MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja cannot afford to repeat that against Bangladesh. 20-30 runs could be the difference between the two sides.
10. Avoid complacency
In the process of having a relaxed mindset ahead of a crucial game, India should not be complacent due to relatively easy opponents. On their day, Bangladesh could be as competent as any big team and England and New Zealand would testify to that.