Momentum with India in the series decider

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10 Nov 2019 | 10:23 AM
authorSomesh Agarwal

Momentum with India in the series decider

Bangladesh's ability to counter spin will play a big factor in their prospects

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The joy of victory in the first T20I was short lived for Bangladesh as the rampaging Indian opener and the stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma bulldozed their encroachment with his third fastest 50+ T20I innings (strike-rate 197.7). Finding gaps and crossing the boundary at will, Rohit turned the chase into a formality by the end of the powerplay where India added 63 runs. 

While India’s inability to formulate an approach to setup a challenging first innings total and an early advantage for Bangladesh after Rohit’s dismissal in the first over, helped the visitors to restrict India in the first match, a purpose filled innings from the elegant right-hander left no hope for them in the second one. 

Testing themselves in pressure situations will be an ideal way of preparation for the World Cup. From that perspective it is great for both sides to find themselves in a must win match. 

Coming into the third T20I, while the ball of momentum has moved into India’s court, the toss is expected to play a crucial role on the Nagpur pitch that has had a habit of slowing down considerably during the course of the match. 

A lightweight pacer for the home side 

Taking the performance from both the games into consideration, Khaleel Ahmed emerges as a definite weak-link in the Indian XI. After being hit for four consecutive boundaries at the end of the first T20I, Khaleel was smashed for three consecutive boundaries at the start of the second match. His performance in this series is not an anomaly. Since 2018, he has been one of the least economical pacer for India in T20Is.

With 13 T20Is for India since 2018 (next only to Bhuvneshwar’s 17) and only a handful of games left before the World Cup in 2020, Khaleel’s generosity in giving away runs cannot be ruled out for a lack of experience. Earmarked as a bowler with a knack of picking wickets, even his strike-rate in this period has been 22.2, only better than Vijay Shankar’s (25.2). 

In the ongoing series, India was still in-line to defend a sub-par total in the first T20I until Khaleel’s 18 run 19th over. In the second T20I, Khaleel was guilty of being too short and failing to bowl according to the field. A short and wide delivery angled across the right-handed batsman is inexplicable with the third-man inside the circle. 

With Shardul Thakur warming the bench for this series, a swap in the deciding T20I is highly likely. The management will only be helping itself and Khaleel by resting him for the decider after which he can hone his skills in the ongoing Syed Muhtaq Ali trophy before he gets another chance to test himself with world-class batsmen in the IPL 2020. 

Spin trouble for the visitors 

It is not often that a team from the subcontinent is collectively found out against the turning ball. Since 2018, Bangladesh batsmen have had an average run-rate of 9.1 against pacers but it considerably drops down to 6.7 against the spinners. 

While their batsmen are able to use the pace in the ball from seamers, they lack the hard-hitting batsmen needed to counter-attack the spinners. In the ongoing series against India, the attacking options against spin for most batsmen included sweeps and reverse sweeps and hardly any attempts to use the feet to hit the ball down the ground. 

To explain the issue further let us observe the collective strike-rate of their top-7 batsmen against all bowling types.

While it can be assumed that the low strike-rate against off-spinners can be attributed to a lot of left-handers in Bangladesh line-up, the numbers are concerning even among right-handers where the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim (96.4) and Sabbir Rahman (94.6) have a strike-rate of under 100 against off-spinners. 

Among the left-handers, Soumya Sarkar (84) and Tamim Iqbal (91.9) have a strike-rate of well under a 100 against leg-spinners. With not many quality off and leg spinners in Bangladesh domestic circuit, counter-attacking these bowling varieties is now a perennial concern. 

As Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal have already made a mark in the series, countering them can be a decisive factor for the visitors in the final bout. 

Final thoughts 

Bangladesh will hope to nullify the Rohit Sharma threat as early as possible to challenge the largely untested Indian batting line-up. India, on the other hand, would expect their captain to begin from where he left off in the second T20I. 

It is astonishing that in a game decided in 40-overs; a lot depends on the toss prior to the game. While India’s track record would compel neither of the teams to bat first, none of them would want to be affected by the slowness of the track either. With shortcomings in both teams, the series finale is all set to be a mouth-watering prospect. 

Probable XI – 

India: Rohit Sharma ©, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (wk), Krunal Pandya, Shivam Dube, Washington Sundar, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shardul Thakur 

Bangladesh: Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Naim, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah ©, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Aminul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain 

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India v Bangladesh 2019Third T20I at NagpurSeries on the line

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