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Asia Cup 2016: India look to steamroll Bangladesh in tournament opener

Rohan Raj | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:45 IST

MS Dhoni-led India will embark on one final journey into the hostile territory that will test their character and showcase their preparations for the coveted ICC World T20 scheduled in March.

The top-ranked T20 giants will contest the Asia Cup featuring Bangladesh (the hosts), Sri Lanka (the defending champions), United Arab Emirates (qualifier) and arch-rivals Pakistan - who are yet to face Dhoni and company since last year's World Cup.

Also read: The subcontinent rivalry gets a taste of slam-bang T20 action

Ahead of the slug-fest with the three strong Asian teams and a tricky qualifier, Dhoni's men surely look like the favourites to win - with the scattered squad of Pakistan and Sri Lanka only making the case stronger. Team India have proved their mettle in Australia and defended their ground against Sri Lanka (at home), in the T20 series.

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But, the last time India visited Bangladesh, Dhoni had to answer for a disappointing ODI series loss last year and had to deflect queries about him stepping down as team captain. However, times have changed and the unpredictability of facing different teams in a tournament demands that the Indian team to be at their prolific best.

Team India will be eager to make a statement when they take on the challenging hosts at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka on 24 February. The visitors will wary of threat posed by Bangladesh - who have witnessed an amazing turnaround in cricket and developed into a strong limited-overs side.

As the two teams gear up for the first match tomorrow, here's a look at how the two sub-continent teams stack up:

Batting

Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli_File Photo

File Photo

The Indian team looks impressive at the top-order - boasting two explosive openers in Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. The presence of in-form Virat Kohli at the number 3 slot makes for a deadly top-order for India.

The middle-order could witness a shuffle - with Dhoni switching positions with Yuvraj Singh or Suresh Raina in different match situations. The availability of the young Hardik Pandya at number 7 provides the much-needed depth to the Indian batting line-up.

Rivals Bangladesh will surely miss the presence of Tamim Iqbal - who is taking a break for the birth of his first child. His absence could prove to be an opportunity for Imrul Kayes - who made his comeback to the T20 squad against Zimbabwe in November after a gap of nearly four years.

Soumya Sarkar will be pivotal for the hosts at the top order, especially in the absence of Tamim. Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah will provide the stability to their middle-order while Mushfiqur Rahim will fend off competition from Nurul Hasan to feature as a wicketkeeper-batsman.

Bowling

Bangladesh cricket team_Twitter Photo

Twitter Photo

Team India's bowling attack has improved with the inclusion of some new faces. Ashish Nehra's return to the fold has helped the side, while the ever-improving Jasprit Bumrah is likely to carry on his sublime form in the tournament. Pandya will also be used as third seamer which will enable Dhoni to play more spinners.

Ravichandran Ashwin has turned out to be Dhoni's trump card in the recent months - with the opposition batsmen struggling to pick his variations. Ravindra Jadeja is capable of providing adequate support to Ashwin from the other end. Dhoni will also have an option in Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh to get in some quick overs.

For Bangladesh, all eyes will be on Mustafizur Rahman who made a dream debut in international cricket last year. Captain Mashrafe Mortaza and Taskin Ahmed will support Rahman in the pace attack and the deadly trio will be accountable for providing early breakthroughs to the hosts.

Mortaza's side doesn't boast a renowned spinner and will have to rely on the experienced Shakib Al Hasan who can be deadly on the slow wickets. Arafat Sunny and Sabbir Rahman will be among the spin options for Mortaza.

Squads

Indian team_Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

India: MS Dhoni (c/wk), Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra, Pawan Negi, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Shakib Al Hasan, Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Soumya Sarkar, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Nurul Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Mahmudullah

First published: 23 February 2016, 5:51 IST
 
Rohan Raj @ro4an_raj

After a poor stint in gully-cricket quashed his hopes of turning pro, Rohan moved away from the playing field and began criticising those who were still on it. Football eases his mind and watching City paint Manchester blue is his elusive dream. When not talking, thinking or dreaming about sports, Rohan can be found listening to EDM or watching movies. A sports correspondent at Catch News, he has previously worked with Hindustan Times, Daily Bhaskar and India Today.

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