About the Match
It is a historic moment for Bangladesh as they play their first test on Indian soil. The Bangladesh team has come a long way in the last few years, especially in sub-continental conditions. Can they put aside the disappointment of the New Zealand tour and channel the energy which led them to defeat England at home?
To say that the Indian cricket team is formidable at home would be selling them short. They have won 16 out of their last 18 test matches, drawing the other two. They have only lost one (England 2012-13) out of their last 20 test series at home.
The Indian team has coped with the loss of batting greats like Sehwag, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly in the most seamless manner imaginable.
Under Virat Kohli, this team seems to have a greater hunger for winning than under Dhoni, although that could be just due to a change in personnel. Here is the thing, though. Not everything is gravy with this Indian team and we think there are some potential weaknesses to be exploited.
The opening slots are occupied by Murali Vijay and Lokesh Rahul. Two batsmen that have done well individually but as a partnership failed to cross 50 more than once in the last one year. Neither of them would be worried about their place just now but the presence of recalled batsman Abhinav Mukund waiting in the wings could serve as extra motivation for them to perform.
Pujara and Kohli following these two have been absolutely stellar and can be backed to score runs more often than not under any conditions.
The most interesting choice in front of the selectors will be for the number 5 slot. Rahane scored 63 runs at an average of 12.60 before getting injured while his replacement Karun Nair scored a triple hundred in his last match.
Indications from the team suggest that Nair could become the first player to be dropped after making a triple hundred. This will put immense pressure on Rahane, who does not have a great record at home anyway.
We would suggest betting on Rahane to score less than 30 in this innings.
A look at the scorecards of the three test matches suggests that this is a good bat first pitch and that is certainly what any captain winning the toss will look to do. Back India to score more than 400 if they get a chance to bat first.
We think that Murali Vijay, who has traditionally done very well in opening matches of series, along with Pujara and Kohli will be the players most likely to score big in this match
. India’s lower order also cannot be counted out as Saha, Ashwin, Jadeja and Jayant Yadav all have scored runs regularly in the last few matches.
The bowling in these conditions will always be led by Ashwin and Jadeja. Ashwin has picked up an astonish 18 wickets in the last two matches he has played here with three hauls of five wickets or more.
Back Ashwin to be the top wicket taker against a Bangladeshi lineup studded with left-handers
This is going to be a big occasion for the Bangladeshi team that played some exceptional cricket in New Zealand only to somehow find their way to a 2-0 loss in the two test series. They will be much more at home in the Indian conditions though as their spinners can truly come to the fore.
Their team will depend on Mehedi Hassan Miraz, Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam to do the bulk of bowling. Mehedi Hasan had a fantastic start to his career against England but will be tested much more against an Indian batting lineup that is adept at playing spin.
That being said, though, we believe this Indian team prefers the ball coming on to the bat rather than sharp spin and so the Bangladeshi spinners will have an opportunity to make an impact.
The real question though is never about Bangladesh’s spin bowling. It is about their fielding and batting. Bangladesh dropped as many as 20 catches on their tour of New Zealand contributing to their demise. It is difficult to see them improve in such a short span but their batsmen should be much more comfortable in these conditions.
Shakib Al Hassan will be once more the mainstay of their batting, coming off his magnificent double hundred in New Zealand, while the return of Mushfique Rahim to the team will strengthen the batting as a whole.
Opener Imrul Kayes has been ruled out due to injury and Soumya Sarkar will be expected to take his place. Sarkar is in good touch after a good debut in New Zealand and some runs in the warm up here as well. We would back him to get a 50 plus score in this match
Another player who will be crucial in this match for Bangladesh will be Tamim Iqbal. The experienced opener scored a hundred against England at home and loves batting in these conditions. He also enjoys playing against India. His matchup against Ashwin could go a long way in determining which way this match is headed.
The last two matches at Hyderabad ended in a big innings victory for India but they were against teams that traditionally have not played spin well. A rank turner against Bangladesh could be a tricky proposition and so we think that a fair surface will be provided.
The toss will also play a very important role as the team batting fourth will have to face the worst of the conditions.
It is difficult to look beyond India in this test match, although we have a feeling that it will be much closer than anyone expected it to be. Back India To Win.
Winner: India, N/A @ Bet on India now