India begins its journey in the 2014 Asia Cup against the hosts Bangladesh at Fatullah. Under normal circumstances, the average Indian fan would have thought that this would be a relatively easy encounter with which to start the tournament. However, in light of the recently concluded New Zealand tour, it is unlikely that too many people would be hoping for anything big from the national team. In fact, most people may be satisfied with a win in the opening match.
Form: As has been said already, India has not been enjoying the best of forms but even Bangladesh has not fared any better. The home team was decisively hammered 3-0 by Sri Lanka during a recently finished one day series. So, with regards to the form book, both the teams will be on an even keel.
Conditions: Given the similarity of conditions between India and Bangladesh it is hard to say if the home team will enjoy any home advantage or not. However, the wickets here are even slower and lower than India and that means the Indians, who have recently played on the quick and hard tracks in New Zealand, may take some time to adjust and that could mean some advantage for the home team.
Team composition: To start with, one would not expect the Indian team to tinker too much with a set team. Rohit and Dhawan will open the innings, followed by Pujara at one down. In fact, Pujara has been chosen in the one day team for the purpose of preparing him for the World Cup, where his better technique is expected to come in handy against the quicker bowlers from opposition teams. One hopes he kickstarts his one day career in a positive fashion in this tournament so that both he and the team receive the necessary impetus for the tougher contests ahead. Kohli and Rahane will most possibly take up the next two spots.
Karthik, the wicketkeeper, will most probably bat at 6 followed by Jadeja and Ashwin. It is likely that Bhuvneshwar, Shami and Varun Aaron will form a three pronged quick bowling attack.
Bangladesh will most probably open with Anamul and Mominul followed by Imrul Kayes, Naeem Islam and Nasir Hossain. Shakib Al-Hasan, the talismanic allrounder and skipper cum wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim will round up the batting order. Considering India’s weakness against seam bowling Bangladesh may settle for just one spinner in Sohag Gazi or Abdur Razzak to be followed by Mashrafe Mortaza and Rubel Hossain. Ziaur Rahman could be preferred for the third seamer’s spot because of his greater experience and capability with the bat. However, if the conditions so warrant, Ziaur could be benched in favor of anyone of the frontline spinners. While the bane for India is its inexperienced middle order, for Bangladesh the loss of Tamim Iqbal is a major blow. This probably balances both the teams in the end and ensures that there is a good possibility that a new star will emerge from this match.
Likely outcome of the match: It is hard to say right now that which team will come out on top following this encounter. Incidentally, India are still higher ranked than Bangladesh but we all know that perhaps rankings do not count for much on the cricket field. In fact, India would do well to remember that last time around its campaign was derailed by the Bangladeshis and be more guarded against them. Both the teams should look to perform the basics well and keep a calm head. One thing is for sure – the team that makes a good start in this game will go a long way as far as winning the tournament is concerned.