Big Picture: Can Bangladesh spring a surprise?
The defending champions have been upset by Afghanistan. Australia haven’t looked like Australia of World Cups past. Pakistan seem lacking too. And the South African juggernaut fell apart against the Netherlands. Of all the pre-tournament favourites, only India and New Zealand have played like favourites. The latter have made it four wins in four, and now India are looking to do the same, against Bangladesh in Pune.
The hosts have played with plenty of main-character energy in their first three fixtures, scoring convincing victories against Australia, Afghanistan and Pakistan. They were tested to varying degrees in all those games – reduced to 3 for 2 in the chase against Australia; Afghanistan setting a target of 273; and Babar Azam and Mohammed Rizwan building a solid platform – but in the end it wasn’t even close.
This Bangladesh squad has enough experience and young talent in their ranks to stretch India, but their current form isn’t promising. Mushfiqur has scored two fifties in three matches so far but the rest have struggled with consistency. Najmul Hossain Shanto and Litton Das had one good knock each. Rookie Tanzid Hasan hasn’t had much impact. Towhid Hridoy, who scored 500 runs before the World Cup this year, is batting lower than his usual No. 5 position. Mehidy Hasan Miraz also hasn’t been effective.
Whether Bangladesh runs India close or not could come down to how their fast bowlers fare. Mustafizur Rahman aside, the others have been off-colour. Shoriful Islam has been expensive at times and Taskin Ahmed is not the force he was earlier this year. If these three, or Hasan Mahmud and Tanzim Hasan, can fire it will give Bangladesh a stronger foothold in the contest.
India WWWLW (last five ODIs, most recent first)
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India are unlikely to change their winning combination. The small ground dimensions and flat pitch could mean that Shardul Thakur is likely to keep his spot ahead of R Ashwin.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Kuldeep Yadav, 11 Mohammed Siraj
If Bangladesh can play Shakib, they will. They could be tempted to promote Mehidy Hasan Miraz to open with Litton and Mushfiqur could also bat higher in the order. The question is whether Bangladesh will look to strengthen their bowling by sacrificing some batting depth.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tanzid Hasan, 2 Litton Das, 3 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 8 Mahmudullah, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Pitch and conditions: High scores in Pune?
Since 2017, teams batting first have posted 300-plus totals in three out of five ODIs in Pune, though this will be the first international at this venue in nine months. There was some drizzle on the eve of the match but the forecast is for sunshine on match day.
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“He had a good batting session yesterday. He did a bit of running between the wickets as well. We are waiting for the result of the scan we did today. We haven’t tried his bowling yet. We will assess him tomorrow morning, and make a decision. If he is not ready to play, we won’t risk it. If he is ready, there’s a chance of him playing tomorrow.”
Bangladesh coach Chandika Hathurusinghe on Shakib Al Hasan’s availability status
“When you enter a World Cup, every team will pose you a challenge. So, from our perspective, I don’t think we’ll take anyone lightly.”
India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey on Bangladesh
The preview was updated after the Bangladesh pre-match press conference.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84