Most would have written off Bangladesh’ chances beyond the group stage in the ongoing Champions Trophy. Almost 55.09% thought so in a poll conducted by espncricinfo. Though 29.10% were optimistic of their semifinal spot, much like Shakib and Mahmudullah. After Losing Tamim for a duck and staring down the barrel at 33 for 4 with 233 more runs to win in a must-win game, the two just kept going and finished where they wanted to. But it didn’t look like an upset anymore, as a win for Bangladesh against any higher ranked team would earlier be known. They will now take on their sub-continent nemesis, India, who comfortably booked a place in the semifinals owing to some traditional knockout performance from the Proteas.
The last two outings between the two teams in ICC tournaments created considerable buzz surrounding them. Bangladeshis took umbrage against the umpires when they signaled a no-ball after Rohit was caught of a waist high full toss and, they nearly shocked the hosts at the World T20 last year before some visceral tactics from Dhoni saved the Indians from shambles at the Chinnaswamy.
A Settled Squad
Thursday’s knockout too would be an unexpected meeting for a semifinal clash. India’s batting line up looks settled. The Rohit-Dhawan combo has struck gold when the stage gets bigger. If Dhawan’s career statistic is separated into ICC tournaments and otherwise, the cricketing world would see two different batsmen. Kohli can take comfort in the fact that their middle order from Yuvraj to Jadhav too have performed whenever they got a chance in the group stage. The finishing capacity of Jadhav and Pandya has not been scrutinized much in England until now, though their potential is well known to all.
The Indian bowlers must be credited for their revival against South Africa after letting Sri Lanka chase down 321. Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah held their length back to suit the English conditions and it paid them well in the last game. Ashwin and Jadeja too bowled decent spells against the Proteas and Pandya would need to make sure not to allow the opposition to target his inconsistent accuracy.
Minnows No More
Bangladesh’s batters proved in their chase against New Zealand that they are not over dependent on Tamim. They are a mix of experienced and talented cricketers with some fearless performances over the past couple of years. If the likes of Soumya Sarkar get into the groove, it would be trouble for any opposition out there.
Their spirited skipper has been the impetus of the team’s turn around. Bangladesh’ bowling unit too came to the fore against the Kiwis after drafting in Taskin and forming a four pronged pace attack.
The practice game between the two teams may have ended as huge let down for Bangladesh. but they are more than capable of turning the tables if India goes complacent. India would be wary of that, having been at the receiving end more than once. The contest should not be seen as the giants against the giant slayers anymore. Bangladesh have moved far ahead of that now. They would play with the freedom of having nothing to lose and India would have title defense on their minds. Pakistan awaits.