ICC Champions Trophy: Five things Virat Kohli’s Team India have to do to beat B’desh
While all odds point towards an India-Pakistan final in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy, India have a tricky encounter to overcome before that, against Bangladesh in the second semifinal.
The two sides have had their hiccups in their run-up to the semis, with Bangladesh getting lucky against a strong Australian side. Rains had saved them in the Group A game against the Aussies, handing the South Asian side a draw from the brink of defeat.
India on the other hand, have had a bittersweet tournament so far. Despite massive victories against arch-rivals Pakistan and South Africa, their loss against Sri Lanka has been heavily scrutinised, bringing the strong bowling lineup under the scanner.
Here are a few things that the Indians must do to overcome the Bangladesh challenge, at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground, on Thursday.
The Men in Blue need a steady start
Chasing a paltry target of 192 in the last Group B game against South Africa, India were looking to finish the match, which was billed as a virtual quarterfinal, with minimal number of wickets lost.
However, Rohit Sharma’s early wicket meant that skipper Virat Kohli had to come in and stabilise the innings, before leading his side to the crucial victory.
Throughout this tournament, India have employed the cautious-start tactic with the openers absorbing the pressure at the top of the innings. However, the way Rohit Sharma got out against South Africa is bound to raise a few questions.
The Mumbai-lad made room, and went for the big inside-out drive, but only ended up nicking it to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock. That wicket did not cause great harm against South Africa, as they had very little to chase down. However, that may not be the case against Bangladesh. Early wickets could easily put a lot of pressure on the shoulders of the middle order.
Pace or spin?
This has been a raging topic among the Indian fans throughout the tournament. Arguably for the first time in the history of Indian cricket, the national team squad has five top quality pacers – Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami – who can swing (and seam) the match their way.
However, they also have one of the best spin duos in the world in the form of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The good thing about all these bowling options is that three out of the seven of these players are considered genuine all-rounders. Despite this, skipper Kohli has to make his choice, as to what combination he wants.
Kohli had gone with four pacers and one spinner – Umesh, Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah, Pandya and Jadeja against sub-continent sides like Pakistan and Sri Lanka. His justification for this was that these sides are good players of spin.
However, Sri Lanka exposed the one-sidedness of the four-one system, as their batsmen dominated India in the middle overs of their innings.
Although the Bangladesh batsmen are considered as good players of spin, the duo of Ashwin and Jadeja will bring much variety to India’s attack; Ashwin’s stock ball spins into a right-hander, while Jadeja’s stock ball spins away. Adding to that, the spin-twins tend to bowl better in tandem, rather than in isolation.
On the other hand, Bangladesh have their own pace attack that can do a lot of damage to unsuspecting batters. The exploits of Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain are well known.
Someone like Taskin Ahmed, who bowls with raw pace, could turn out to be lethal in the cloudy conditions of Birmingham, while the likes of Mortaza and Mustafizur can use their trickery and change of pace to good effect especially in limited overs cricket.
However, Bangladesh’s most potent weapon is ace spinner Shakib Al Hasan. Shakib’s exploits as a spinner are well known, and the 30-year-old has both the skill and temperament to out-fox even the best from around the world.
Adding to the mix, Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim has another ace up his sleeve – Mosaddek Hossain. Although the 21-year-old has not been given the ball that often, he proved to be instrumental in restricting New Zealand to 265 in their last Group A match. He ended up with brilliant figures of 3-13 – from just three overs.
Stifle Bangladesh in middle overs
One of the biggest problems for India in this tournament has been their bowling in the middle overs. This aspect took the Sri Lanka game away from them last week, something that Kohli will be well aware of.
Even against South Africa, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis were well on their way to build a solid launch pad for the death overs. However, India managed to get two quick run outs in the middle overs, helping them to levy some pressure on the Proteas.
Had it not been for the two run outs, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan would have been looking at an arduous run chase.
No more misfields
Over the years, fielding has become a crucial aspect of cricket – especially in limited overs cricket. India have exhibited some shambolic fielding in their first two matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Although they turned things around and came out with a much better show on the field against South Africa, head coach Anil Kumble will be looking to the Team India fielders to cut down around 20-30 runs.
The likes of Kedar Jadhav and Yuvraj Singh have not had a good time on the field this tournament; Skipper Kohli will be looking to the duo to come good, as the ICC Champions Trophy enters the knockout phase.