Cricket-mad Bangladesh is currently football-mad. The ongoing World Cup is not just watched in this country, but also celebrated in every corner, dominating most conversations. The visiting Indian players were welcomed by flags of Brazil and Argentina in the buildings overlooking their training ground in Dhaka. There’s little cricket paraphernalia for what is the BCB’s first marquee home series this season. International cricket, even if it is India’s first ODI in Bangladesh in seven years, will have to jostle for space.
Bangladesh have qualified for the ODI World Cup next year, but they will not want to take the foot off the gas. India, with their first-choice players back in the squad, would want to start well, and lead into their home World Cup in October next year strongly. This series, remember, is not part of the World Cup Super League, but that shouldn’t reduce the intensity.
Rohit Sharma is back as India’s ODI captain, with KL Rahul his deputy. Virat Kohli has also returned to the side. The star players’ comeback in this format indicates India are starting their preparation for the next year, after sending a second-string side to the recent tour of New Zealand.
However, this also means the likes of Ishan Kishan, Rajat Patidar and Rahul Tripathi might not get as many opportunities, as the top and middle orders are loaded with big names. With Mohammed Shami ruled out of the ODIs, and several allrounders like Axar Patel, Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar in the mix, it will also be interesting to see how India balance their side with the match being played on the slow Shere Bangla National Stadium pitch.
Bangladesh will be missing the services of two star players: Tamim Iqbal, the regular ODI captain, who had earlier pulled out of the series because of a groin injury, and Taskin Ahmed, who was ruled out of the series because of a back injury.
Both players have been in good form in ODIs. Tamim has led the side to direct qualification for the World Cup while scoring important runs, and Taskin is seen as the lynchpin of the pace attack these days. Litton Das, who will lead the hosts, has a major role to play with the bat, too, opening against a solid Indian bowling attack.
Litton will have seniors in Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah to bank on, while the likes of Afif Hossain, Yasir Ali and Anamul Haque will be expected to step up in their respective roles.
India would not want to take Bangladesh lightly this time, particularly at home where the hosts have not lost a bilateral ODI series since the defeat to England in October 2016. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will rely on their experienced players to get them through.
Bangladesh: WLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Virat Kohli is 30 runs short of becoming the second overseas batter to get 1000 runs in ODIs in Bangladesh, where he averages 80.83. In good form in T20Is of late, there couldn’t be a better place for Kohli to get back into rhythm in ODIs after averaging 21.87 in eight games in the format this year.
Litton Das has scored 500 runs in ODIs this year while averaging 62.50. But there is an added responsibility this time, leading the side in Tamim’s absence. How he responds to the new test will be interesting to see. The Bangladesh captaincy has, of late, been quite a story.
Shakib batting at No. 3 should mitigate Tamim’s absence. It would also allow Bangladesh to play an extra batter, which will likely be Yasir Ali. Taskin is also missing, which means Ebadot could get the nod for his pace.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Litton Das (capt), 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Yasir Ali, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Hasan Mahmud, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Ebadot Hossain
With Shami ruled out of the series, young quick Umran Malik has been called up. Unless India decide to give Kuldeep Sen a debut, it is likely that both Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar will play.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Pitch and conditions
It is going to be a typical Mirpur pitch but not the raging turner we see often in Test cricket. The Shere Bangla Stadium last hosted an ODI in May 2021, and the pitch has mostly produced scores on the higher side for the teams batting first. Dhaka is cool this time of the year, with no rain forecast.
“This format is such that we play well each time at home. We’ll miss two of our main players, but we still believe that who we have with us are very capable”
Bangladesh’s stand-in captain Litton Das doesn’t sound too affected by the absence of Tamim Iqbal and Taskin Ahmed due to injuries
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84