Asia Cup: Minus Dhoni India look for winning start

DHAKA: The last time India and Bangladesh met in an ODI was in the 2012 Asia Cup. Then, the hype over Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th international hundred was deflated by Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan’s well-executed chase of 290.

The memory of that match is something Mushfiqur Rahim will want to go back to in order to boost the sagging spirits of his team. Bangladesh’s preparations for the tournament have hardly been ideal. The 3-0 series loss to Sri Lanka was followed by Shakib Al Hasan’s three-match suspension and then Mushfiqur publicly aired his disappointment at not being consulted over Asia Cup selections. Tamim Iqbal, the second highest run-getter in ODIs for Bangladesh, is out due to injury and the captain and Mashrafe Mortaza are also carrying niggles.

In the last ODI against Sri Lanka, Bangladesh’s middle order, floundering previously in the series, showed some inclination to work for a start. Against India, who have a strong batting side even without MS Dhoni, they will need to go one better and build on the thirties and forties. They need to curb the tendency to suddenly give away their wickets.

In 2012, Mushfiqur had singled out India’s bowling as a weakness and that remains true today. Their bowling struggled in New Zealand, and for this tournament they have a relatively raw pace line-up on flat tracks. India’s batsmen, except Virat Kohli and Dhoni, struggled for runs in New Zealand but the subcontinent tracks may allow a few of them to find form.

There will also be considerable focus on Kohli in his first high-profile assignment as India captain. Kohli has had two previous stints as captain – in the tri-series against West Indies last year and five ODIs in Zimbabwe.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
India’s brand-new middle order, brought together by injury and exclusions due to bad form, will be tested. The last Indian team that did not feature MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina played in January 2004. Ajinkya Rahane was patchy in the ODIs against New Zealand, while Ambati Rayudu only had a couple of chances. The line-up will be bolstered by Dinesh Karthik, though, as the wicketkeeper has been in good form.

Allrounder Ziaur Rahman was brought into the side to replace an out-of-form Mahmudullah at No. 7. He has two fifties and a mammoth hundred in three of his last four first-class games. This is his chance to stake a claim for a more stable position in the team.

TEAMS
India (probable):  1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Ajinkya Rahane/Ambati Rayudu, 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Varun Aaron

Bangladesh (probable) : 1 Shamsur Rahman, 2 Imrul Kayes/Anamul Haque (wk), 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt), 5 Naeem Islam, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Ziaur Rahman, 8 Sohag Gazi, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Rubel Hossain