It has so far been a captivating World Cup for Bangladesh this England summer. Three wins against as many defeats and a disappointing washout fixture against Sri Lanka hardly reflect how fiercely they have fought in the showpiece event so far.
And more pressingly going into their penultimate league game against India at Edgbaston today, the Tigers will not go out there for just an academic interest but with a much bigger stake as far as the race for a slot in the last four is concerned.
India will also be under pressure in a game where their place in the semifinals might be put on the line in a topsy-turvy World Cup, which has so far guaranteed one semifinalist in defending champions Australia with one and a half rounds to go.
Some might argue against it, but it was the Tigers who provided the impetus in this World Cup with their fearless batting. South Africa came into this tournament as one of the fevourites but were effectively derailed by the Tigers. They have chased down West Indies’ 322 in some style. They might have lost against Australia and England but the way they set on chasing those massive targets before falling short were treat to watch. The Tigers lost a close game against New Zealand and, had the result gone in their favour, they could have been in pole position to make it into the last four.
True that Bangladesh are yet to win a game against India since their home series in 2015. But they were only to blame for losing a few close games, failing to hold their nerves when it mattered most.
If you consider the strength of the two teams, India certainly hold a massive edge in two departments – bowing and fielding. But the Tigers have the potential to match the strong Indian batting line-up.
And today’s game at Edgbaston will most probably be decided by bat rather than the ball, where Bangladesh will desperately look for their young opener Soumya Sarker to come to the party with all his poise and grace.
The left-hander has got starts but failed to make it big. India might have Rohit Sharma who has the ability to destroy an opponent bowling attack on his day. But Soumya can have a more devastating impact as an opener. The Tigers fans will desperately want that star to be aligned for Soumya to make a big statement in the biggest stage.
Soumya apart, the Tigers will also look for their young left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman to come out of his indifferent selves. He has so far been struggling with his line and length. He has also not been trying his yorkers, which has been the most effective weapon in this this World Cup, due to lack of confidence. It is about time for Fizz to deliver what could possibly be a tailormade wicket for his cutters to grip.
Bangladesh have so far tried in vain different options to make an impact with the new ball. This is something they will have to live with for not having a quick bowler of repute at their disposal. Against India, containment will be the obvious plan with a set of bowling attack that is more disciplined than attacking.
Despite that limitation, the Tigers fans will once again root for their beloved team that has injected enough belief that they can still overcome their mighty neighbous in today’s battle when India will be the team under pressure more than Bangladesh, who have nothing to lose but everything to achieve.
India under pressure? You don’t need to research for that. Just recollect the Indian batting approach in the last five overs against England at the same venue on Sunday. With 71 runs needed to win, they conceded the defeat despite their finisher Mahendra Sing Dohni still at the crease. Dhoni stroked singles and perhaps from the Indian point of view it was a pragmatic approach to keep their net run-rate healthy, which at the end of their defeat against England stood at plus one.
But in hindsight it also exposed that fear factor of losing their next two games -- the first being against Bangladesh.