Over the years there have been some pretty discernible feats achieved by Bangladesh. Starting from whitewashing New Zealand in Bangladesh to refrain the English Cricket team from reaching the knockouts in WC 2015, and then reaching the semis of this Champions Trophy, it has been quite an extraordinary journey for them.
If we take a close look on both these rivals, we will see that their similarities are more conspicuous than their discrepancies. Apart from having the same lyricist for their respective national anthems, India and Bangladesh share myriads of similarities in culture, national symbols, cuisine, and even in the specific demeanour and passion the supporters express themselves at their respective team’s performance.
At the picturesque Oval, we saw the cerulean blue of India completely taking over the myrtle green of South Africa both on and off the field. The lion’s share of the stadium was occupied by Indian supporters who revelled at every single moment of that match. They created the milieu the Indians are used to play back in their own backyard.
Birmingham is known to be a city full of Non Resident Indians and over the years Edgbaston has been the venue where most number of Indians usually turn up in a cricket match. Ergo, it is easily foreseeable that the colour of the Edgbaston stadium would be predominantly blue in the semi-final of Champions Trophy which has already turned into a major cause célèbre. But it certainly can’t be assured that they’re going to dominate as they did in the previous clash against the South Africans. Bangladeshi supporters are pretty renowned for their untrammelled passion shown in the field. So, the battle of passion between the supporters is going to be inevitably intriguing.
This year, in general, the pitches offered in the matches were mostly in the drier side in lieu of being moist and conducive to swing bowling. Even the weather has changed significantly over the past few days turning into sunny and pristine instead of overcast and caliginous. Hence, it is more likely that there wouldn’t be much on offer for the fast bowlers, especially who rely on swinging the ball in the air and consequently they would have to toil hard to bag wickets. But as the Indian bowlers kept on hitting the same area over and over again in the last match forcing the vicious South African batting corps to refrain from their usual blitzkrieg, things are looking bright unless they lose their consistency under pressure.
Both teams would be relying on their batsmen and spinners as they do during a match in the subcontinent. After a satisfactory performance in the last game, the possibility of Ashwin being replaced by Umesh Yadav is infinitesimally small albeit the latter single-handedly eviscerated the Bangladesh top-order in the warm-up game at the same venue.
Indian batsmen have performed quite satisfactorily until now, courtesy Shikhar Dhawan with his love-affair with this particular tournament; his partner with lackadaisical elegance, Rohit Sharma and of course, Virat Kohli. Although the middle and lower order without much exposure might be a problem if Bangladesh manages to get these three out cheaply.
In their previous encounter against the Kiwis, two veterans, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudulla showed impeccable fortitude and technique in their pursuit of 260 odd runs when their team was in a precarious situation. The sort of form they’re in currently can be deadly to any opposition on any day. Besides them, Mustafizur Rahman will be under spotlight against his favourite opposition.
The last time these two teams met, there were a lot of unwarranted occurrences leading to exasperating controversies. In social media, the result of that match was shown as a fait accompli even before the actual beginning of the match. That’s why, in Bangladesh’s mind, this semi-final might seem like an opportunity to finish the unfinished business. They know that they’re now too old a nation to be satisfied with one big win against a strong opposition.
Back in 1983, when the Indians were the underdogs, nobody even thought for once that they could beat a formidable English side in the semis. What happened next is now carved in every Indian’s heart and will remain so as long as cricket exists. Will history repeat itself tomorrow? Only time will tell that.
Bangladesh WLWWL (completed matches, most recent first)
India (possible) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 R Ashwin, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mahmudullah, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Taskin Ahmed, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Pitch & Conditions:
The pitch for the semi-final has not been used recently; unless it changes drastically over the game, these sides should not have any real preference for batting or bowling first. The weather seems to have finally settled in Birmingham, and we shouldn’t have any interruptions.