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July 13, 2024 8:39 am

T20 World Cup: Pressure building on top-order and Shivam Dube as India take on Bangladesh

North Sound (Antigua), June 21

The ever-present tension of their over a decade-long big-stage rivalry would make for an engrossing sub-plot when an undefeated India takes on a faltering Bangladesh, both teams desperately hoping for their batting stars to strike form in the Super Eights clash of the T20 World Cup here on Saturday.

The overall head-to-head record is overwhelmingly in India’s favour but Bangladesh have been known to be plucky and Rohit Sharma and his men would be wary of that.

The two South Asian neighbours have also been locked in some off-field drama in the past with Bangladesh often expressing its misgivings with India’s financial might in the sport.

At the ongoing World Cup though, there is no doubt that India are as mighty a cricketing power to be a serious title contender.

The Men in Blue produced a professional performance against Afghanistan in their opening Super Eight’s match.

With only a travel day separating their remaining two games, they would be hoping that the players, who have not performed as per expectations so far, deliver the goods.

Top of that list would be the opening pair of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, both of whom have got starts but have not been able to turn them into defining knocks. They have made a conscious effort to force the pace but have ended with minimal returns.

Another under-pressure team member is left-hander Shivam Dube, who was picked in the World Cup squad to hammer sixes in the middle and death overs.

However, the IPL form that helped him seal a World Cup berth has deserted him and he is yet to come to the party.

The southpaw did make an unbeaten 31 against the USA in a group league game but it was Suryakumar Yadav’s effort that made the difference ultimately.

Another failure might force the team management to consider Sanju Samson in the middle order.

The biggest positive in the batting department in the Afghanistan game was Hardik Pandya’s cameo. The all-rounder is known for his brutal hitting and that was on display on Thursday.

On the bowling front, India are expected to retain the combination having given the first opportunity of the tournament to crafty left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav.

The wickets in the Caribbean have provided enough help for the spinners, prompting India to play three at the Kensington Oval.

The combination is likely to continue here with Kuldeep retaining his place at the expense of Mohammed Siraj.

“Playing three left-arm spinners, I feel there is an advantage. There are three left-arm spinners out of which we have two finger spinners and one wrist spinner,” said Axar Patel after the Afghanistan game.

“The combination of the three of us is very good. We have a good team. We communicate well. Like whoever comes to bowl first, we communicate what is working and what is not. I think that is very important when you bowl as a unit,” he added.

India’s sole aim in the Caribbean is to win the trophy and a solid performance against Bangladesh will be another step forward in that context. A tougher battle awaits against Australia on June 24.

Bangladesh, who have struggled with their batting throughout the tournament, find themselves in a must win situation after the loss to Australia.

The lack of power-hitters is hurting them and there is no quick fix to that problem. The under-performance of opener Litton Das and Tanzid Khan has also compounded Bangladesh’s woes.

“It’s very important for the top-order to get runs like we did today, that’s a big boost, hopefully the bowlers will continue their form. Looking for a good show against India in our next match,” Bangladesh captain Najmul Shanto said after the loss to Australia here on Friday.

Both Shanto (41) and Towhid Hridoy (40) did well but the rest of the line-up was not quite up to it.

They will need to find a way to tackle Bumrah, who has been sensational thus far, taking eight wickets at an unparalleled economy rate of 3.46 runs per over.

The pacers, led by Mustafizur Rahman, have done alright but leg-spinner Rishad Hossain needs more support in the spin department.

Squads:

Bangladesh: Tanzid Hasan, Litton Das, Najmul Hossain Shanto (captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Towhid Hridoy, Mahmudullah, Mahedi Hasan, Rishad Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Tanzim Hasan Sakib, Mustafizur Rahman, Jaker Ali, Tanvir Islam, Shoriful Islam, Soumya Sarkar.

India: Rohit Sharma (captain), Hardik Pandya, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson, Shivam Dube, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj.

Match starts at 8pm IST.

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