Flanked by the sea while the other end rolls into hills with a whiff of vineyards, Adelaide has infinite charms. A film festival just got over. But ‘climate change’ is real. And as an Australian spring seems to be relapsing into winter rather than embrace the incoming summer, the city was caught between dipping temperatures, grey clouds, and rains tap-dancing on high-rises and quaint cottages.
The ideal weather for a good book and a hot chocolate but cricket beckons, and for India, ahead of its match against Bangladesh on Wednesday, the Adelaide Oval offers a medley of memories. Sandeep Patil hammered a 174 against Dennis Lillee and company in 1981, Mohammed Azharuddin etched a poetic 106 in 1992, and Rahul Dravid owned the 2003 Test with a double century. The last-named back as the Indian coach would hope that the traits that defined him - rigour and grit - will also reflect from his wards.
The ICC Twenty20 World Cup Super 12 Group 2 contest offers another chance for India to inch closer to the semifinals. Having stumbled against South Africa, the Men in Blue are aware that only a few clashes remain and Dravid simplified it: “We need to win four games to win the World Cup.” Ever pragmatic, the coach refused to take Bangladesh lightly and described it as a ‘good team’. He would know since the rival’s shock-triumph sent his men crashing out of the 2007 50-over World Cup in the West Indies.
India’s top-order needs to fire in unison instead of dishing out the lone echo, and currently even that singular voice only belongs to Virat Kohli. The former captain, Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya have papered over the early cracks. But skipper Rohit Sharma and his deputy K.L. Rahul have to string a partnership atop the batting order.
The management also needs to take a call on Dinesh Karthik, who suffered back-spasms against South Africa. Dravid said that, “Karthik pulled up well today [on Tuesday] and will be assessed tomorrow (Wednesday).” The judgement has to factor in fitness besides juxtaposing it with whether Karthik has offered the desired value while Rishabh Pant is warming the bench.
The bowling unit has been reasonably fine, with young Arshdeep Singh stepping up while Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami offering experience. Still, bowling at the death could be better, and it remains to be seen whether the Deepak Hooda (batter) for Axar Patel (spinner) swap will be repeated. Most importantly, the fielding has to get over the lapses against South Africa.
Squaring up against India are Shakib Al Hasan’s men, an excitable bunch as evident in the tussle against Zimbabwe, prematurely celebrating a victory without registering if the final delivery was indeed the last ball. Bangladesh did get back to seal the deal, but this remains a unit in a rebuilding phase following the exits of Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal. With four points each from three outings, India and Bangladesh will meet as equals, even if the former has the edge.