The 2019 World Cup semi-final qualification scenario has become straightforward for the handful of teams remaining in the race.
England’s win over India in Birmingham on Sunday knocked Sri Lanka out of the reckoning and made the qualification route for Pakistan and Bangladesh that much tougher.
The equation will be straightforward for India and Bangladesh when they lock horns in Birmingham on Tuesday – a win for India will ensure their progress to the semis while a win for Bangladesh keeps the Tigers in the hunt.
The Tigers have given India a horrid time in limited overs cricket, especially in multi-team tournaments. Bangladesh knocked India out of the 2007 World Cup and competed well in defeats in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final and 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final.
India had to give it their all to secure last-ball wins against Bangladesh in the 2016 World T20 and the Nidahas T20 and Asia Cup finals last year.
Simply put, Bangladesh will fancy their chances against India, especially since the Tigers have a more settled and experienced team. Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza said he is confident of getting the better of India.
“Every time we have played India, they have mostly been better. The current side is very strong too. But we go to play at our best but you never know. If we reach 100 per cent then you never know,” Mortaza said.
“In sport, anyone can beat anyone. It will be very hard but we have to be at our best.”
Both teams are struggling with fitness issues to key personnel. India are already without Shikhar Dhawan and Vijay Shankar, who have suffered fractures. Seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has just recovered from a hamstring injury while keeper MS Dhoni took two nasty hits to the finger during the defeat to England.
Bangladesh too have their share of the walking wounded. Captain Mortaza’s hamstring is as good as gone, Mahmudullah is carrying shoulder and calf injuries while Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim suffered blows to the hand.
But given what is at stake, these veteran players are expected to take the field on sheer willpower.
Focus on pitch
The match will be played on the same strip where England beat India in a high-scoring game. Batting clearly became more difficult as the innings wore on and the team bowling second should have an advantage.
Both teams have excellent slow bowling options and it will be a case of win the toss, bat first and score as many as you can.
India: KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (c), Rishabh Pant, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Liton Das, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mustafizur Rahman
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