Can pacers play to potential in Pune?
There had been a lot of hype surrounding Bangladesh's pace-bowling unit ahead of the ICC World Cup, having made significant strides in the last few years.
The likes of Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman, Shoriful Islam, and Hasan Mahmud managed to gain the confidence of the team management with their consistent ability to pose a threat to the opposing batters, prompting the team management to keep its faith in the seamers intact.
Considering current year's records, the impact of Bangladeshi pacers speaks for itself, as they managed to turn the table in their favour with 94 wickets, which is 32 more than their spin unit's tally.
However, Bangladesh's seamers have been underwhelming in their three World Cup games so far. Despite defeating Afghanistan in the tournament opener, skipper Shakib Al Hasan mentioned after the game that he expected the pacers to contribute more to the team's cause.
From then on, the situation quickly deteriorated as the Tigers went on to lose their next two games, both in convincing ways, against England and New Zealand. Although Batting display has been the standout disappointment, Bangladesh quicks also performed below par.
Shoriful, along with Shakib, has taken the most wickets for Bangladesh thus far in the tournament. The left-arm pacer took five wickets in three games, but he would like to improve his economy rate, 6.28, which remained on the higher side.
Probably the biggest concern for the Tigers' pace unit would be Taskin. The tall quick, who was expected to lead the Bangladesh pace battery in the flagship event, seems to be struggling to find his rhythm.
Taskin only grabbed two wickets in three games, with an economy of 6.30. Because of his inconsistency, the 28-year-old was unable to bowl his complete quota of overs in each of the three matches. Furthermore, his pace appears to have slowed so far in the World Cup.
Mustafizur Rahman, another experienced bowler, must also fire on all cylinders as the 'Cutter Master' has only two wickets to his name.
Despite the fact that the Indian conditions were predicted to help spinners more, pacers are among the four out of top five wicket-takers in this tournament.
Allan Donald, Bangladesh's pace-bowling coach, has been instrumental in creating the new-look Bangladesh pace outfit. The South Africa great was spotted working closely with his charges during yesterday's training session at Pune's Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium ahead of their India clash on Thursday.
Given the Indian batters' rich vein of form, spearheaded by captain Rohit Sharma, Bangladesh could choose to feature their fifth pace option in Tanzim Hasan Sakib after he impressed on his international debut last month. In that match, against India in the Asia Cup, the right-arm seamer removed the Indian captain in his second delivery.
If Bangladesh fail to make the first Powerplay count on both batting and bowling yet again, Tigers' prospect to return to winning ways becomes much more difficult. Thus, Mustafizur and company will be desperate to produce early inroads and regain their confidence as the pressure mounts on the side.