Stage set for dramatic start | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 24, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:35 PM, February 24, 2016

Stage set for dramatic start

It's difficult to recall the last time Bangladesh entered a mega event without the 'underdog' tag. They did reach the final of the Asia Cup in 2012 and they also created history by making it to the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 2015. However, on both those occasions, not many expected the Tigers to reach those landmarks.

Going by the public sentiment this time around, the Asia Cup 2016 is probably the first ever tournament in which the Tigers have as good a shot at the trophy as the other three nations. A few former cricketers, like Inzamam-ul-Haq have gone as far as deeming the hosts as the favourites of the tournament.

This vibe is something that has developed over the year 2015. Apart from making it to the quarters, they also scored major series victories against India, Pakistan and South Africa and with these wins there were certain mental barriers that were overcome.

However, as refreshing as this change in attitude may be, the fact remains that Bangladesh are still ranked 10th in T20I cricket. Going by the last few matches, the Tigers still have plenty to learn in this format.

The major problem for Bangladesh has been their batting. Their batsmen have not managed to carry on their knocks after getting a start and with Tamim Iqbal not in the side things are bound to be tricky.

The key player for the Tigers would be Mushfiqur Rahim. The cleanest hitter of the ball in the side and the most consistent performer, Mushfiqur, unlike the top order, manages to rotate the strike frequently and also chips in with timely boundaries now and then.

For the highest ranked T20 side in the world, India, the scenario is completely different. They easily have the strongest batting line-up in the tournament and that's the reason why MS Dhoni's injury issue should not be too much of a concern for them. They have got a power-packed batting order led by Virat Kohli, who has averaged above 80 in the last two years. As far as the bowling department is concerned, spinners Ravichandran Aswin and Ravindra Jadeja have traditionally been their strike-bowlers. However, keep an eye on 22-year-old pacer Jasprit Bumrah. He troubled both Australia and Sri Lanka in recent series. Apart from Jasprit, Ashish Nehra and Hardik Pandya are expected to complete the pace department. 

Bangladesh's bowling has performed a lot better than their batting. With Al-Amin Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman in the side, they have got a good combination for their death overs. Shakib Al Hasan and Arafat Sunny are expected to lead the spin department. With no Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh are likely to go with Mohammad Mithun at the top.

There has been plenty of excitement whenever these two teams have faced each other in recent times. It began with the no-ball controversy during the World Cup in Australia, one that left many Bangladeshi fans disheartened.

The result was that emotions were at their highest when Bangladesh successfully completed a 2-1 series win over India last year. With the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium getting set to host yet another mega affair, there could have been no better fixture to inaugurate the tournament. The weather is the only aspect that could provide a dent to this start. As per the forecast, it may rain in the evening. 

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