Dhaka: With two back to back T20 series wins and Virat Kohli coming back after being rested, India look like a force to reckon with as they kick-off their Asia Cup campaign against hosts Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Wednesday.
The only concern that India will have will be regarding captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who skipped practice on Monday due to a muscle spasm. Wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel has been flown in as his backup.
For the first time, the Asia Cup will not be played as a 50-over competition, but will instead be a 20-over affair.
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India and Sri Lanka are the two most successful teams in the tournament, having won the title five times each and Dhoni and his men would look to extend that trophy haul.
What would boost India’s confidence is that they beat Australia 3-0 and then Sri Lanka 2-1 in the previous two T20 competitions.
They would look to continue the momentum when they meet Bangladesh, but the hosts have taken giant strides in international cricket in the last year and a half and would not give up easily.
In fact, the last time India visited Bangladesh, they suffered an unexpected defeat to the hosts in a One-Day International series.
Team director Ravi Shastri does not want to dwell on that series loss and instead wants the Indian players to focus on the current tournament.
“That happened long back. I don’t remember it. I only remember things of the recent past,” the former India captain told reporters here on Monday.
The tournament will also be a dress rehearsal before the World T20 in India next month and Dhoni had earlier said he would try and give all 15 members in the squad some valuable match practice.
“I will try to give everybody a game because it is something as important as playing with a settled team,” Dhoni had said on Sunday in his pre-departure media conference in Kolkata.
“It is important for everybody to have games under their belt.”
India looks a settled unit in every department. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been amongst the runs while Virat Kohli has been in great form. The finishers too including Suresh Raina and Dhoni have batted well in the last few games.
The bowling line-up, with Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah have combined well too so far and are sure to give the Bangladesh batsmen a tough time when they clash here.
The hosts have built a formidable side in the last few months and have been ably led by skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. They have impressed with both bat and ball and have been able to nurture talents like pacer Mustafizur Rahman who have already started creating ripples in world cricket.
Bangladesh have a mix of experience and youth with veterans Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim still going strong.
India will be wary of the fact that Bangladesh have match winners in their side and as Dhoni mentioned they would be keen on negating the threat from the ‘big-hitters.’
But with the unpredictability of the format Bangladesh would be hoping to pull off a surprise in front of their vociferous home fans.