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Dhoni doubtful as India eye revenge against Bangladesh

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 23, 2016 14:34 IST
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India started their preparation for the World T20 in right earnest, winning back-to-back series against Australia (away) and Sri Lanka at home.

In six T20 internationals played this year, India won five, the only defeat coming against Sri Lanka on an unusual Pune pitch in the last series.

Team India

IMAGE: India's players celebrate after winning the first T20I against Australia, in Melbourne, on January 29, 2016. Photograph: Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images

India enter the final phase of their preparation for next month's World Twenty20 with the Asia Cup, starting on Wednesday, but a cloud of uncertainty over captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni's availability threatens to disturb the side's momentum going into the tournament-opener against Bangladesh in Dhaka.

The skipper's fitness is a concern going into Wednesday's match against the sprightly hosts, who have built a reputation of being giant-slayers on more than one occasion.

Dhoni suffered a muscle spasm during the Indian team's training session on Monday, prompting the Board of Control for Cricket in India to rush Parthiv Patel as his back-up.

The continental championship will be played in the Twenty20 format this year, as against the usual 50-overs' format, keeping the forthcoming World T20 in mind and the need for Asian teams to get some much-needed match time before next month's marquee event.

For India, who are considered title contenders, a good showing in the Asia Cup will give them the much-needed boost going into the World T20.

While Dhoni has always stated that 'revenge is a very strong word in sport', the Indians will be keen to get even with a strong Bangladesh side that beat them fair and square in a three-ODI series at the same venue last year under hostile circumstances with a partisan crowd backing their team.

This was against the backdrop of the controversial decision involving India opener Rohit Sharma during the quarter-final of the 50-over World Cup in Melbourne last year.

The ODI series last year saw the emergence of left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman, who bamboozled the Indian batsmen with his variations.

This tournament will also give the Men in Blue an opportunity to crack the 'Mustafizur Code', having failed miserably the last time round.

Mustafizur Rahman

IMAGE: Bangladesh's Mustafizur Rahman celebrates after claiming a wicket. Photograph: Bangladesh Cricket/Twitter

The Indians started their World T20 preparations in right earnest, winning back-to-back series against Australia and Sri Lanka at home.

In six T20 internationals played this year, India won five, the only defeat coming against Sri Lanka on an unusual Pune pitch in the last series.

If India reach the final of the Asia Cup, it will be another five T20 matches, taking the number of matches to 11 before the start of the World T20, and according to Team Director Ravi Shastri would be 'just what the doctor ordered'.

The team under Dhoni has looked quite settled in the shortest format but the real test starts with the Asia Cup as the business end of the preparations for the World T20 begins.

Momentum will be key from now on and Dhoni's men will be keen to seize the initial advantage even though it won't be easy by any means against a Bangladesh side, which will be more than a handful on home soil.

India's captain has indicated that he will like to try out all the 15 players in the squad although it is the winning combination that is expected to play against Bangladesh in the tournament opener.

IMAGE: India's Rohit Sharma, left, with Shikhar Dhawan. Photograph: Getty Images

The batting order looks set with the tried and tested combination of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma at the top of the order.

Virat Kohli comes back at No. 3 after a much needed three-week break from cricket post the tour of Australia.

India's premier shortest format specialist Suresh Raina will be at No. 4 followed by Yuvraj Singh, who is slowly returning to form since that last over six in Sydney.

Ravindra Jadeja and the big-hitting Hardik Pandya make it a strong top eight for India as far as batting in the T20 format is concerned.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah complete the line-up.

Bumrah, however, did not train on Monday and team sources said he is a little under the weather and has been advised rest.

The Indian bowling will certainly be expected to get its act together on sluggish sub-continental pitches with Ashwin being the leader of the attack.

Ravichandran Ashwin

IMAGE: Ravichandran Ashwin celebrates after claiming a wicket. Photograph: BCCI

After an indifferent performance in a high-scoring ODI series in Australia, Ashwin found his mojo back at the start of the T20 series, claiming 13 wickets from his last six T20 games.

In the series against Sri Lanka, he was virtually unplayable, grabbing nine wickets in three games, with career-best figures of four for eight in the three-match series decider in Visakhapatnam.

Nehra and Bumrah make a good pace attack with one having loads of experience and ability to read match situations effortlessly and the other an unusual action and able to rattle the batsmen by bowling yorkers at will.

Bangladesh's strength is their bowling attack with Mustafizur, Taskin Ahmed and Al-Amin Hossain expected to pose a big challenge to the Indian batsmen.

With a handsome IPL contract, Mustafizur may again intimidate the Indian batsmen with Taskin and Al-Amin for support.

Not to forget the enormous experience of skipper Mashrafe Mortaza and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

The duo, on their day, along with former captain Mushfiqur Rahim could tilt the scales in home team's favour.

Left-handed batsman Soumya Sarkar and World Cup hero Mahmudullah make it a decent batting line-up for Bangladesh.


India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ashish Nehra, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Pawan Negi, Parthiv Patel.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Imrul Kayes, Nurul Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Nasir Hosain, Shabbir Rahaman, Mahmudullah Riyadh, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahaman, Abu Hider, Mohammed Mithun, Arafat Sunny.

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