When a depleted Indian team faces off against a tricky Bangladesh side in the high-stakes two-match series, KL Rahul’s strategic acumen and batting prowess will both be put to the test. The outcome of this series will have an impact on India’s chances of qualifying for the World Test Championship final.
At the moment, India are sitting in fourth place in the WTC table, behind South Africa, Australia, and Sri Lanka. The only way to ensure that one’s spot in the championship match in June is secure is to win both of the next Tests against Bangladesh and then all four matches at home against Australia captained by Pat Cummins. This will remove all ifs and buts from the equation.
The voyage begins at the Zahoor Ahmed Stadium, which has historically been favourable to hitters but also provides some turn in the latter stages of matches.
The visitors will begin as prohibitive favourites in the Test format, a competition in which Bangladesh has not yet triumphed against India; nevertheless, the absence of Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Ravindra Jadeja could prove detrimental to the team’s performance.
On grounds of this nature, the absence of Jadeja places the Indian side in a position of disadvantage, and this disadvantage is exacerbated when the other team is batting in the third or fourth innings.
At least against weaker Test teams on subcontinental pitches, the Jadeja-Ashwin tandem has the potential to be dangerous, but Axar Patel has put in the work as the team’s second option left-arm spinner over the course of the past two seasons.
If all of the Indian players are healthy, as many as ten of them will choose their own spots in the playing XI. The most important decision that the two Rahuls, KL, the captain, and Dravid, the head coach, will have to make is regarding the fifth specialist bowler, which will either be a third pacer or a third spinner.
It remains to be seen whether India would play a third choice specialist spinner in the form of either the wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav or the slow left-arm orthodox Saurabh Kumar.
Saurabh, who has been a star performer for India A squad in the just finished two-Test series against Bangladesh A with 15 wickets, would feel that he has established his case for a Test Cap in at least one of the two games. Bangladesh A was the opponent for both of the games.
The trial of Rahul’s leadership abilities In the previous year, Rahul hasn’t exactly been spectacular in terms of cricketing smarts in terms of captaincy, and this series, where he is likely to receive two games, will be an acid test as far as his long-term ambitions in terms of leadership are concerned.
On Monday, while participating in the unveiling of the trophy alongside his counterpart Shakib al Hasan, Rahul stated to the media that his team “plans to play aggressive cricket” because they are aware of the specific requirements that must be met in order to qualify for the World T20 finals for the second year in a row.
However, Rahul, whose performances in white-ball formats have been, to say the least, a bit unimpressive, will need to show the needed effort and aggression in the batting department in order to “walk the talk.”
He will have the young Shubman Gill for company, and the middle order will be handled by Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, and Shreyas Iyer respectively.
Rishabh Pant will be returning to the game in what can confidently be referred to as his preferred format, which is the one in which his uncomplicated batting has been a lovely spectacle for the Indian fans.
Umesh Yadav, an expert in his field on the barren subcontinental tracks, will have Mohammed Siraj, Ashwin, and Axar Patel for company in the bowling department. Umesh Yadav is a master at his craft on these tracks.
In the event that a third pacer is chosen rather than an additional spinner, the choice will have to be made between two bowlers who have only played one test match: the domestic doyen Jaydev Unadkat and the skiddy Navdeep Saini. Saini is more well-known for being the bowler who faced Pant when the latter made history at the Gabba.
As far as the Bangladesh team is concerned, it will be eager to rectify its miserable record of having no wins versus India over the course of the previous 22 years.
Even while playing at home, Bangladesh has never been able to muster the bowling resources necessary to consistently cause problems for opposing teams in the conventional style of the game. The spinners Shakib and Taijul Islam, as well as the pace bowlers Taskin Ahmed, Ebadot Hossain, and Shoriful Islam, would really want to see a change in the script.