Bangladesh will play India in the first of three ODIs in Mirpur, Dhaka, on Sunday, December 4th. The match is scheduled to begin at 11 am local time. It is a Day Night match.
Both teams have already secured their place in the World Cup next year (India automatically as hosts), but this is a chance to both prepare for that tournament and experiment with some combinations.
India welcome back a number of their “big guns” who were rested for the New Zealand tour, That means Rohit Sharma returns as captain, and KL Rahul and Virat Kohli should also be back in the side.
However, after several months of playing international cricket, Suryakumar Yadav has been given a break in line with India’s rotation policy.
Bangladesh will be without their regular ODI captain Tamim Iqbal. He has been ruled out with a groin injury, and will not only miss the ODI series but also threatens his participation in the following test series, Litton Das will captain the side in his absence.
Fast bowler Taskin Ahmed is also unfit to play because of a back injury. Sharful Islam has been called up as his replacement.
Major talking points
Can Kohli translate his T20I form into ODIs?
India will be hoping that Virat Kohli can translate his T20I form into the longer format of the white ball game, He, along with Yadav, was one of the stars for India in the recent World Cup, but, without his partner this time, will have an even greater responsibility on his shoulders when it comes to building an innings.
He only needs 30 runs to get to 1,000 in ODIs in Bangladesh, and this match offers the perfect opportunity to reach that milestone?
Can Pant rediscover his form?
This is an important series for Rishabh Pant who has been struggling with the bat in the past few months. His loss of form resulted in him becoming a peripheral figure in India’s World Cup campaign, and he had a disappointing tour of New Zealand, where he again found runs hard to come by.
If this continues, serious questions will begin to be asked about his place in the team.
India’s opening problem
One area where India have struggled in all forms of cricket in the past few years has been their innate conservatism at the start of an innings. That eventually cost them dear in the T20 World Cup and it is an issue that needs to be addressed if they have serious hopes of winning the 50 over a version World Cup on home soil next year.
It is a question of mindset but also encouragement, Players need to be encouraged to play their shots early in an innings, without fear of reprisal in the form of being dropped if they then get out.
Head to head
The two teams have played 36 precious ODIs together and the current head to head stands 30 wins for India, five to Bangladesh and one no result.
Recent ODI form
Bangladesh were last in ODI action back in August, when they lost an away series on Zimbabwean soil by two matches to one.
India have just finished their tour of New Zealand, where they were well beaten in the first match, before the second was the victim of a weather. They were looking a heavy defeat in the face in the third game, but it was called off before a minimum number of overs to complete a match had been concluded.
The pitch in Mirpur is generally good for batting, although in tends to get slower the longer the match continues. Spinners can get some turn, but nothing excessive. The average first innings score on the ground is 228, but, in terms of batting first or second, statistically there is very little to choose between them. Winning the toss does not confer a significant advantage.
After their mini-tour of New Zealand was badly affected by rain, India will be pleased that the weather forecast for this match is more benign. It should be dry, mainly sunny, with temperatures in the mid-20s.
The weight of history and form is very much on the side of India, and they will start clear favourites.
However, at this stage, it is the manner of the performance as much as the result that should matter to the Indian team, Can they play aggressive, fast cricket or will they just be content to grind out a result?
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