India, struggling with injuries and fitness-related problems, will be determined to avoid being on the wrong end of a whitewash against Bangladesh by winning the final One-Day International (ODI) of the three-match series here on Saturday.
Bangladesh, riding on two contrasting yet brilliant knocks from Mehidy Hasan Miraz, has already sealed the series after winning the first two matches but a 3-0 win will be a historic first for Bangladesh. It will also significantly dent the visiting team’s confidence ahead of the Test series starting here in less than a week’s time (December 14).
For India, there were 20 cricketers originally available for this series. But now only 14 are available for the third ODI.
Kuldeep Yadav has been flown into Chattogram on an SOS basis as the Indian bowling attack looks thin on experience. It is to be seen whether India brings in Ishan Kishan into the playing XI as an opener or whether stand-in skipper K. L. Rahul, who is now a designated middle-order batter-keeper in this format, decides to promote himself just like he did during the tour of South Africa.
The other option is continuing with Virat Kohli-Shikhar Dhawan combination and get Rahul Tripathi, who can also bowl some cutters, in the playing XI. If the team management goes for a pure batter rather than a utility player, then the stylish Rajat Patidar could get his first game for India.
There isn’t a back-up pacer who could replace Deepak Chahar, and the team might not have an option but to fall back to all-rounder Shahbaz Ahmed, who could be the sixth bowling option.
India’s five-pronged bowling attack will be Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Umran Malik, Washington Sundar and Axar Patel. With no Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami or Ravindra Jadeja, the Indian bowling unit’s performance at the back-end has been far from impressive. In the first match, the death bowling was poor with only one wicket to get and 51 runs still required, while in the second game, Bangladesh scored 200-plus runs after being six down for 69.
In the second game, Chahar’s breakdown with another hamstring injury prompted skipper Rohit Sharma to make a terse statement about how one needs to get to the bottom of the issue to find out why so many players (fast bowlers especially) are getting injured.
While a full-strength Bangladesh will start as favourite in the final game, the bigger worry will be the form of Rahul, the skipper. His record, save for the ODI series win against a below-par Zimbabwe, has been dismal and the last thing he would need is another whitewash against his name after the tour of South Africa.