Preparations for next year’s T20 World Cup will be in high on the minds of both India and Bangladesh as they prepare to lock horns in a three-match T20 series beginning in New Delhi on Sunday. However, it is the hazardous air quality of India’s capital which has dominated the headlines in the lead up to the series opener.
With memories of Sri Lanka’s players vomiting on the field at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium nearly a year ago still fresh, the spotlight will firmly remain on the air pollution when the two teams take the field on Sunday.
The game is still set to go ahead despite the alarming pollution levels, and as such, the two sets of players will need to switch their attentions to the cricket on the pitch as they look to make a winning start in the series.
Life without Shakib starts now for the Tigers
With all the discussions surrounding the air quality in Delhi, it has become easy to forget that Bangladesh have arrived in India on the back of a major setback. With their star player and T20 skipper Shakib Al Hasan set to miss an entire year of cricket due to his suspension, life is going to get exponentially tougher for the Tigers as they look to build a squad for next year’s T20 World Cup.
It would be hard for any team to replace an all-rounder ranked No1 and No2 in the ODI and T20 formats respectively, doubly so for Bangladesh who are already reeling with the absence of other senior players. Opening stalwart Tamim Iqbal has pulled out of the tour while talented all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin is out with an injury.
With three key players unavailable, it will be up to the likes of newly-appointed skipper Mahmudullah, wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim and opening batsman Liton Das to step up for the visitors. Their T20 record against India is an unenviable one as it is, with the Tigers finishing on the losing side in all eight previous clashes.
India look to continue new attacking approach
There has been a marked change in tack from India in the shortest format with the Men in Blue taking a cue from England’s 2019 World Cup-winning squad. Packing the side with capable batsmen down the order is the new approach with India using that strategy in the recent series against South Africa and West Indies.
While previously India would look towards their formidable top-three to do the bulk of the run-scoring, costly defeats in the semi-final and final stages of big tournaments seems to have forced the team management to reconsider.
The new strategy revolves around taking the game to the opposition bowlers from the get-go, with the team not changing its approach even if they lose early wickets.
It will be interesting to see if the hosts stick to their new handbook against Bangladesh with the likes of Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja rested for the series.
New faces in in the spotlight for hosts
As India continue to experiment with their T20 side, there are a couple of new faces in the squad who could find themselves in the playing XI for Sunday’s clash. All-rounder Shivam Dube has been handed a maiden call-up with Hardik Pandya recuperating from a back surgery, while wicketkeeper batsman Sanju Samson has returned to the T20I fold after a four-year absence.
The 26-year-old Dube has been a consistent performer on the domestic circuit as a big-hitting lower-order batsman who can bowl some handy medium pace. The Mumbai man seems like a certainty to make his India debut in New Delhi but the team management have a tough decision in picking one of Samson or Rishabh Pant.
Pant has failed to take his chances in limited-overs games for India with the southpaw averaging a paltry 20.30 after 20 appearances. With his talent undeniable, the 22-year-old should and will, in all likelihood, get a longer rope to establish him claim. However, the team management will want to have an alternative at hand should Pant fail, and as such, expect Samson to feature in the playing XI instead at some point in the series.
Know more about Sport360 Application