India vs Bangladesh: Virat Kohli and Co. set to resume Test dominance

India has the upper-hand in the first Test against Bangladesh, which begins in Indore on Thursday. The two-match series is part of ICC World Test Championship.

Virat Kohli in a jovial mood ahead of India's first Test against Bangladesh in Indore on Wednesday.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Playing cricket against neighbouring countries often leads to friendly chat in the middle. There are similarities in food, culture, music and literature among other disciplines. India had a critical role in the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 and today, as the two nations gear up for a Test series in this part of the world, the cricketing camaraderie is bound to get stronger.

It is a learning phase for Bangladesh, ranked No. 9 in the Test rankings, to strategise and survive the No. 1 side. The two nations will also share the pink ball under floodlights at Eden Gardens in Kolkata next week.

The first Test starts here on Thursday, and the only topic that is doing the rounds at the Holkar Stadium premises is how Bangladesh will tackle the lethal Indian pace bowlers without star batsmen Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. On top of that, Bangladesh lost the last Test it played, against Afghanistan, to raise eyebrows.

READ: History, records in Tests so far

Among the top five Test run-scorers from Bangladesh, only Mushfiqur Rahim is part of the contingent touring India. The short and sweet wicketkeeper-batsman is expected to guide new skipper Mominul Haque to pass this Test.

Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo shares a light moment with captain Mominul Haque in Indore on Wednesday.   -  R.V. Moorthy

 

Haque, a first of a kind Test specialist in Bangladesh cricketing circles, is aware of the challenges ahead but he possesses the mindset to hold his ground to fight tooth-and-nail.

There is a silver lining. Spinners Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who have come up through the ranks, to rub shoulders with legends such as Shakib and yesteryear spinner Mohammad Rafique.

Mehidy had taken 19 wickets against England at home in 2016-17; the most by any Bangladesh bowler in a series. Mustafizur Rahman seems to be the only potent strike bowler among the pacers. Al-Amin Hossain is making a Test comeback after five years while Abu Jayed and Ebadot Hossain are rookies.

Too many stars

Compared to Bangladesh, India is filled with stars from top to bottom. The visitors’ biggest threat will be Rohit Sharma, who is in red-hot form after amassing 529 runs against South Africa.

Rohit has been Bangladesh’s nemesis in limited-overs cricket and with the lack of firepower in its bowling, trust the opener to punish the familiar opponents. Mayank Agarwal is technically solid and at home, ruthless. Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari are the anchors in the middle along with skipper Virat Kohli.

Three of the top five batsmen scored double hundreds in the last series against the Proteas — Rohit (212), Mayank (215) and Kohli (254 not out).

The spotlight, however, will be on pacers Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami who have been claiming 20 wickets in every series.

India-Bangladesh head-to-head
Tests
9 (India 7: Bangladesh: 0, Drawn: 2)