Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-The formalities of an ill-scheduled Test match are over. The focus now shifts to the three ODIs, in which hosts Bangladesh promise to be more competitive than in the game’s longest format, where even after 15 years they continue to feel their away around the international arena.
Given the world wide popularity of limited-overs cricket, including in India, it is hardly surprising to note the euphoria over the ODI series. After all, it promises to deliver a ‘pot of gold’ to the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) at the end of the competition.
This is why everyone here is dreading the rain and hoping it will keep away on match days – June 18, 21, 24. No tears were shed as the one-off Test in Fatullah met with a watery grave on Sunday after 248 overs were lost in course of the five days of the match. The BCB, however, has shown remarkable foresight by scheduling a reserve day for all three ODIs to be played in Mirpur under lights.
It is an improvement over last year, when all three ODIs between the two teams had been affected by rain. That time, of the three ODIs – played between June 15 and 19 – India’s second string, led by Suresh Raina, had won two truncated matches. It rained heavily during the last one, which failed to produce a result.
This time, come what may, results are guaranteed in all three matches. The stakes are high for the home team as their stock in international cricket could rise sharply if they manage to put it across India.
Having beaten top teams like Pakistan and England very convincingly and also the likes of Zimbabwe, Scotland and Afghanistan in recent months, Bangladesh have risen to the eighth spot in ICC rankings.
Only a fraction of a rating point separates them from the West Indies. Bangladesh will also take heart from the fact that they had given India a scare or two in the World Cup quarterfinal at the MCG that was marred by umpiring errors, leading to plenty of acrimony on and off the field.
The World Cup incident is unlikely to have any bearing when the two teams clash again on Thursday, but there is a growing belief in Bangladesh that the ‘Tigers’ are ready for the big kill.
Team India, teeming with experienced campaigners, will not be fazed by all this ‘Tiger talk’.
MS Dhoni, having surrendered one half of the captaincy to Vi rat Kohli, will be eager to push the boundaries in the shorter for mats, where he remains a dreaded foe and an astute leader.
As Dhoni and his band of One day specialists – Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni and Stuart Binny – checked into the team hotel on Monday evening braving the city’s notorious traffic, they were greeted by a sharp shower, suggesting that slipping into slam-bang mode will not be easy .
Earlier in the day, ‘Test specialists’ Cheteshwar Pujara, Ishant Sharma, Varun Aaron, Wriddhiman Saha, Harbhajan Singh, Murali Vijay and Karn Sharma left for home in batches.
The fact that the BCCI, unlike last year, has sent a full strength side for the short series shows how serious India are about getting into the winning mentality as they look to climb up the ICC rankings. India are now a distant second to world champions Australia, trailing them by 12 ratings points.
For the record, India have lost only thrice to Bangladesh in 29 ODIs till now. The last time India went down to their eastern neighbours was in 2012 in the Asia Cup when Bangladesh chased down 290 with five wickets and four balls to spare.
It had taken the sheen off Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international hundred in what turned out to be the maestro’s penultimate ODI appearance.