India can't take Bangladesh lightly

After brushing aside its debilitating loss to New Zealand and finding a second-wind through a victory over Pakistan, India seems to be settling into the groove.

The Indian team after a practice session at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, on the eve of its World T20 match against Bangladesh.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Summer has dented the garden city's oft-repeated attribute — 'salubrious weather' — and as the temperature rises, there is another kind of warmth emanating from the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.

After brushing aside its debilitating loss to New Zealand and finding a second-wind through a victory over Pakistan, India seems to be settling into the groove. That could only whip up more heat, in a cricketing sense, as the host takes on Bangladesh in their ICC World Twenty20 Super 10 Group 2 match here on Wednesday night. > BCCI invites Indian hockey team to watch India-Bangladesh game

It doesn’t mean that all the cogs are in place and M. S. Dhoni’s men have overnight turned into a well-oiled machine. Yet, the signs are there about a slow and steady progress, while a tougher battle is imminent against Australia.

The think-tank may perhaps look at the recent returns of Rohit Sharma (5, 10), Shikhar Dhawan (1, 6) and Suresh Raina (1, 0), as a mere aberration. The troika has the game for Twenty20s and its below-par show is in sync with a line-up in which only Virat Kohli, M. S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh have managed some runs. Yet, this is not the time for alarm bells since India held its nerve despite losing early wickets against Pakistan and mounted a fruitful chase.

The bowling has found a new shepherd in Ashish Nehra, whose comeback proves that Twenty20 has space for the performing veteran. The 36-year-old has been in fine fettle, working up decent pace and maintaining tight lines. Along with him, if R. Ashwin and fellow-spinners thrive on a track that isn’t exactly a belter like the ones seen in the Indian Premier League, India may constrict Bangladesh.

> Nehra: I am trying to do my best

The visitor is reeling after two defeats and burdened by a middling history in the tournament. After defeating the West Indies in the inaugural event in South Africa in 2007, Bangladesh has not vanquished a single Test playing nation in the subsequent editions. It is a barren run that India would do well to capitalise upon.

The heartburn over the suspended duo of Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny over suspect actions has placed Mashrafe Mortaza’s men in a quandary.

The doubts over Tamim Iqbal’s availability — the indisposed opener missed the contest against Australia — remains another worry. Seasoned men like Shakib Al Hasan, though, will take heart from the way Bangladesh delayed the inevitable defeat against Steve Smith’s strong unit.

There may be a sense of vulnerability in its rival’s ranks but India would do well to remember that Bangladesh, at times, punches above its weight. The defeat against the neighbour in the conventional 50-over 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean Islands and the way Mushfiqur Rahim played a blinder and spoilt the party-spirit around Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th hundred in Dhaka in 2012, are wounds that still fester.

Read: >Gautam Gambhir Column

The 'Men in Blue’ need to get past Bangladesh, to stay at ease in a points table that might get into cluster-mode while the final stretch looms into view.

The teams:

India: M. S. Dhoni (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, R. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya and Pawan Negi.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Mithun, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Shuvagata Hom, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan and Saqlain Sajib.

Match starts at 7:30 p.m. IST.

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