In Stats: Numbers, Form and History Stacked Against Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s entire squad has a total of 21 Test hundreds between. Virat Kohli alone has scored 15.
Bangladesh have been a Test nation for more than sixteen years. They have travelled across the world to play at all venues, but have never played a Test in India. It is in this context that the one-off match between India and Bangladesh that begins on Thursday assumes significance; when the two teams step on to the field at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on Thursday, it will be the first-ever game in whites between the two teams on Indian soil.
On paper, a Test between India and Bangladesh appears a mismatch; the two teams have so far come up against each other on eight occasions, with the former emerging victors on six occasions, while two other Test matches ended in a stalemate.
India are unbeaten in their last 18 Test matches; since the final Test on the tour of Sri Lanka in August 2015, India have won 14 Tests and have drawn four others. At home the numbers are even more staggering; India haven’t lost a Test match at home since December 2012.
Bangladesh now have the opportunity to do what England, Australia, West Indies, New Zealand and South Africa – who visited India in these last four years – failed to accomplish. There is no doubt it is going to be an uphill task for the visitors; they are a force to reckon with in limited overs cricket, but in the Test match format, they have a long way to go before they can consistently push the stronger teams.
Bangladesh are often criticized on if they deserve Test status, and that question arises from their results. Since their Test debut, they’ve lost 74 of the 97 Test matches they have played – almost as many as the Indian team have won in their 174 outings in the same period.
While the numbers do tell a sad story, one should also be aware that Bangladesh do not play Test cricket regularly, and are therefore found wanting in this format. One can turn a competitive side only by regularly playing against sterner opponents and in varying conditions; Bangladesh haven’t been doing this, and it is therefore that they languish at ninth in the ICC Test rankings.
Though not a daunting outfit, Bangladesh are not pushovers either; the England team, who toured Bangladesh late last year, learnt of it the hard way when they lost a Test match to Bangladesh for the first time ever.
All along, one has heard and read that Bangladesh are capable of giving India a run. This is based on the fact that they have a fairly good spin bowling department; Bangladesh have the teenage sensation Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Shakib al Hasan and Taijul Islam to make use of the spinner-friendly conditions. But that’s about it; where is the balance in the squad? Their four frontline pacers have a combined experience of 16 Tests and 27 wickets. So, unless they come across a dustbowl of a surface or an early-English-summer surface, how are they going to test a formidable Indian batting line-up?
Just to lend perspective to the lack of experience in the Bangladesh camp, while the fifteen players that make up the Bangladesh squad have a total of 21 Test hundreds between them, the Indian captain Virat Kohli alone has 15 Test hundreds.
On the bowling front, the Bangladesh squad has a total of 299 Test wickets; Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s spearhead and the world’s number-one ranked bowler, alone has 248 scalps.
The odds are stacked against Bangladesh; it is almost like David against Goliath. Not only are India the number one ranked team in the ICC Test rankings, they are playing in conditions familiar to them, are playing champion-like cricket under an aggressive captain, and will be playing this Test match at a venue where they have never been beaten.
In the three Test matches they’ve played at the RGICS, Hyderabad so far, India have emerged victors twice – on both occasions by an innings – and settled for a draw in the other.
That India are fielding a full-strength team indicates they mean business and are not taking their opponents lightly. Two slots await the nod of the team management; one, whether Karun Nair – who scored a magnificent triple hundred in the fifth Test against England, retains his place, or makes way for Ajinkya Rahane, who has recovered from the injury that forced him to miss the last two Tests against England. One doesn’t see this team being influenced by sentiment and emotions, and hence one senses Rahane will get the nod ahead of Karun.
The second slot that needs the team management’s nod is who among Jayant Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav makes the XI? It is likely that the team management will lean towards Jayant Yadav, given there is the likelihood that the Bangladesh top-order will have four left-handers.
India’s likely XI: Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma.
Bangladesh’s likely XI: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Taskin Ahmed, Shafiul Islam.
The two captains – Virat Kohli and Mushfiqur Rahim – will walk out to toss at 0900Hrs IST, and the first ball will be bowled at 0930Hrs IST.
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