Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-From the outside looking in, Bangladesh trouncing Zimbabwe 5-0 barely caused a blip. There was perhaps a double-take when Pakistan were served 3-0. If they whitewash India on Wednesday, the world will sit up and notice.
The 14 men and the support staff on tour here already have. MS Dhoni has admitted his team was outplayed. He has wrestled questions on his captaincy, even bristled momentarily when the critique moved onto selection, reports ESPNcricinfo.
R Ashwin, another player of the ‘keep calm’ variety, seemed to feel he was behind enemy lines at the pre-match press conference. He felt compelled to remind everyone that India had won 75 per cent of their matches this season. Whether that was because of the scoreline of the series or the brutal spotlight that is on the team is debatable, but it was clear to see it does have issues to sort out. Besides the headache of why the batsmen who are touted to front up for the 2019 World Cup are misfiring all at once.
A lot of the credit should go to Bangladesh. They have won key moments and ensured the momentum never dissipated. There is a pack mentality readily visible among the quicks. So much that India’s batsmen haven’t had any room to breathe. They have been bowled out twice, and the best partnership they have put on – one among only four that have crossed fifty – has been 95.
“They’ve owned the Mirpur stadium,” was Ashwin’s assessment. New faces like Mustafizur Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and Litton Das have fit neatly into the one-day structure, while the old faithful Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Mortaza have continued contributing. An 11th win on the trot at home would be the perfect way for them to sign-off in front of the loud, colourful and unabashedly partisan Mirpur crowd.
BANGLADESH: WWWWW (last five matches, most recent first)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
With the squad bursting with performers, Mushfiqur Rahim hasn’t had much to do. He did seal the series with a sparkly cameo that indicated he was finding his best touch again. But perhaps he might like to put in a more substantial performance, considering the scrutiny over his wicketkeeping lately.
Shikhar Dhawan has had a decent tour so far. He has restated his case for Test selection, and has taken home a half-century from the second ODI. What he and the rest of the India batting line-up haven’t been able to do is set up a big total. India have spoken about playing freely, a mandate Dhawan quite likes.
Bangladesh have added the legspinner Jubair Hossain to their squad for the third ODI. “”He was taken to increase the bowling options,” Faruque Ahmed, the chief selector, told ESPNcricinfo. “We will have a look at the wicket tomorrow and take a call on him.”
BANGLADESH (PROBABLE): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Litton Das/ Mominul Haque/ Rony Talukdar, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Rubel Hossain/Jubair Hossain, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Taskin Ahmed
Ajinkya Rahane opted to train yesterday after being dropped for the last ODI. The rest of the team went through “a couple of quiet days,” Ashwin said. The morale isn’t as high as it normally is within the Indian camp.
INDIA (PROBABLE): 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Ambati Rayudu/ Ajinkya Rahane/ Stuart Binny, 5 Suresh Raina 6 MS Dhoni (capt &wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Axar Patel, 11 Dhawal Kulkarni
PITCH AND CONDITIONS
Every day of play on tour has contained the threat of rain, and the trend doesn’t look to be changing. The players trained under cloudy skies on the eve of the match as well. As far as the pitch is concerned, there might not be much change. It is expected to be a touch slow.
STATS AND TRIVIA
Bangladesh will have 11 consecutive wins at home if they win the third ODI. That will leave them one short of the record held jointly by Pakistan (2000-03), West Indies (1986-89) and Australia (2003-04).
This is the fifth time Bangladesh have won five or more consecutive ODIs, the longest being a nine-match streak in 2006. Bangladesh have currently won five back-to-back ODIs – three against Pakistan and two against India.
Before this series, India had only lost one match to Bangladesh in a bilateral ODI series (Dhaka, 2004). They have already lost two ODIs in this series.
“If there is no counter, then what can we do? Can we kidnap him?”
R Ashwin on the ever-present Mustafizur Rahman threat
“We spoke in the dressing-room just before going out to training [on Tuesday]. We have told to be as serious as we would be if we had lost the first two games. We will not give an inch.”