Shubh Aggarwal
06 Dec 2022 | 10:43 AM

India need runs from top-order to stay alive in series

Injuries and player availabilities hamper India's team balance ahead of the do-or-die game

India have had a bummer to begin their first tour of Bangladesh in seven years. They fought hard with the ball but conceded over 50 runs to the opposition’s 10th wicket partnership. It is a rare event in white-ball cricket and India made their fair share of mistakes to let the match slip away from their hands. 

Misfields, dropped catches and clueless bowling were part of it. On top of that, the batting collapsed. Barring KL Rahul’s 73, which was arguably the only silver lining from the game, the celebrated India batters batted like a shadow of themselves, bundling out for 186 in only 41.2 overs. Rohit’s rising issues against spin were aggravated while Shikhar Dhawan yet again struggled at the start of the innings. Virat Kohli was out to a top catch but the shot selection was iffy nevertheless. And Shreyas Iyer was out to a short-ball for the nth time in his career. The second ODI, a do-or-die game to stay alive in the series is at the same venue. Hence, the India batters are tasked to fight their demons against spin. 

Meanwhile, despite a victory, even Bangladesh were nowhere close to their perfect game. They slid from 128/4 to 136/9. All their senior stars - Liton Das, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah - got starts but couldn’t finish the job. A cautious approach towards a modest target on the sluggish Sher-E-Bangla pitch was fine until the hosts found themselves in a rut. Fortunately, Mehidy Hasan the batter turned up, pushing his ODI batting average in 2022 to 56.8. 

Therefore, the senior batters of both sides have the challenge to tackle the low and slow nature of the pitch. 

Injuries and player availabilities hamper India

Mohammad Shami and Rishabh Pant were released from the squad before the first ODI due to reported injuries. Axar Patel was also unavailable due to fitness concerns. He is still with the squad but is expected to stay on the bench for the second ODI.

The injuries have left India short on resources to frame an efficient XI. To begin with, they are left with only two spinners in the squad - Washington Sundar and Shahbaz Ahmed.  A third spinner is a big miss given the inexperience of Sundar and Shahbaz. It also forces India to play an extra seamer which is another department that lacks experience in the absence of Shami. At present, only Mohammed Siraj instills confidence in the pace setup. 

Pant’s release also keeps India deficient of a batting option at number six. The other batting options in the squad are Ishan Kishan, Rahul Tripathi and Rajat Patidar, all of whom are top-order players. Pant would have also been batting out of the position if he was available to bat at six. However, the adjustment required would have been less for the left-handed batter. 

Therefore, if India want to make any changes in the XI, the only option is to bring in Umran Malik for either Chahar, Thakur or Kuldeep Sen who made his debut in the first ODI. 

Ebadot helps Bangladesh absorb Taskin’s loss

Taskin Ahmed, out of the first ODI due to injury, was a big loss for Bangladesh ahead of the series opener. But Ebadot Hossain saw it as an opportunity. Playing only his second match in the 50-over format, Ebadot picked a four-wicket haul in the first ODI, including the prized scalps of KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Shahbaz Ahmed. All of his four wickets came off back of a length or short-pitched deliveries.  An out-and-out pacer who operates in the late 130s or in the 140+ range, Ebadot didn’t let India exploit Taskin’s absence. Ebadot's four-for means Bangladesh won't need to rush in Taskin. 

He will, in all probability, continue with the same plan - high pitch, short in length and use the slow nature of the wicket to generate uneven bounce. It increases the onus on the Indian batters to not only negate spin but be watchful against Ebadot Hossain as well. 

The contest 

Rohit Sharma's troubles against spin are becoming more gruesome with every game. Between 2015 and 2020, Rohit averaged 123.5 versus spinners, while striking at 104.8. Since 2020, the average has fallen down to 18.8 (four dismissals) and the strike-rate is underwhelming by his standard - 78.1. The Bangla spinners, Mehidy Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan, versus the Indian skipper right away will be a contest to watch out for. 

Probable XIs

Bangladesh are likely to continue with the same XI. India may want an extra batter but that will disrupt the team balance for the aforementioned reasons. Hence, the Men in Blue might continue with the same top seven and expect better returns from their top-order. There could be a change in the fast bowling personnel. 

Litton Das ( c ), Anamul Haque (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Afif Hossain, Yasir Ali, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Hasan Mahmud, Mustafizur Rahman, Ebadot Hossain

Rohit Sharma ( c ), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Washington Sundar, Shahbaz Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Sen, Umran Malik/Shardul Thakur

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