| Sachin Tendulkar during a practice session in Colombo on Tuesday. (AFP)
|• Matches: 10
• Won by India: 10
• Last match played: In Dhaka on April 16, 2003, India won by 4 wkts
|• India vs Bangladesh live from 9.30 am on ESPN
• Sri Lanka vs Pakistan live from 2.15 pm on STAR Sports
Colombo: The Asia Cup’s Super Four stage gets underway Wednesday, but there’s a difference from the Super Six format of the World Cup: Teams start from scratch, with no carried-over points.
Just as well, or else India would have been under choking pressure after Sunday’s defeat at the Sri Lankans’ hands in Dambulla. Now, Sourav Ganguly and Co. can look forward to starting the business-end of this IndianOil-sponsored tournament with a flourish.
Of course, Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar has boldly declared “nothing is impossible in a one-day game,” but nobody will be putting any money on a possible upset at the SSC. India have won all ten previous ODIs against Bangladesh and that script isn’t going to change.
If the weight of history isn’t itself too much for Bangladesh, the pitch has queered even more with in-form opener Javed Omar ruled out with a hamstring injury. Omar scored 68 versus Hong Kong and 62 against Pakistan.
“It’s a blow, yes, but we’ve got to be positive,” coach Dav Whatmore told The Telegraph late on Tuesday. Perhaps keeping the positive-bit in mind, it has been decided to drop Mushfiqur Rahman.
[Whatmore, by the way, isn’t perturbed over left-arm spinner Abdur Razzaq being reported to the International Cricket Council for a suspect action. He said: “There’s a process in place... Razzaq is very promising and, in any case, bowlers in other sides have also come under scrutiny...” Whatmore may even spring a surprise by getting Razzaq to open the attack.]
While Bangladesh won’t be at full strength, the day-match will see the return of V.V.S. Laxman, who missed the game versus Sri Lanka owing to a swollen left knee. Parthiv Patel, therefore, is going to sit in the rather comfortable dressing room.
The Indian XI will see one more change — Ashish Nehra taking the injured Zaheer Khan’s place. There has been talk about fielding two spinners (Harbhajan Singh being the other), but everything points to Nehra making the cut for the first time in the competition.
If anything, he has been presenting that hungry look.
Officially, though, the XI is going to be revealed at the toss after the wicket has been given one more look. Incidentally, it rained in the morning and affected the Indians’ nets.
The task, however, is cut out and Sourav conceded as much: “We’ve got to get our act right as we didn’t at all play well against Sri Lanka... Whatever the record, I’m not thinking of a soft outing... We have to be convincing.”
Given the quality of the opposition, it’s unlikely that the match will be decided on tactics, yet one expects Sourav not to ignore Sachin Tendulkar when non-regulars have to fill-in for the fifth bowler.
Actually, the phase II-opener is Team India’s last chance to polish the rough edges before Sunday’s blockbuster versus Pakistan. Pretty understandably, Sourav was lobbed a Pakistan-specific question at a Media conference in the evening and he played straight — “We’re meeting them on July 25, that’s it...”
For the time being, Sourav is focussed on being “convincing” at the SSC.
India (likely): Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Anil Kumble, Irfan Pathan, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Ashish Nehra.
Bangladesh (from): Habibul Bashar, Mohammed Ashraful, Manjural Islam Rana, Rajin Saleh, Alok Kapali, Faisal Hossein, Khaled Masud, Khaled Mahmud, Mohammed Rafique, Tapas Baishya, Abdur Razzaq, Tareq Aziz.
Umpires: David Shepherd, Billy Doctrove.
Match Referee: Mike Procter.
Match starts: 9.30 am (IST).