After a difficult outing against England, India will be looking forward to two comparatively ‘easier’ matches against Bangladesh (July 2) and Sri Lanka (July 6). However, memories of their shock 5-wicket loss to the Bangla tigers in the 2007 ICC World Cup will prevent the Men in Blue from taking their opponents lightly.
It has always been a prickly rivalry between the neighbouring countries, replete with crass TV and print advertising on both sides and plenty of on and off-field sledging. However Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza wants to stay away from all that.
"I don't think the talk on social media will help us a lot, and we want to stay away from that. If we play well and win, it will be a big achievement," he said ahead of the game.
Bangladesh have shown great spirit in this edition of the multi-nation event, with wins against South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan. While their games against England and Australia saw them lose comprehensively, they had the satisfaction of troubling New Zealand, who eventually won by just 2 wickets.
The Bangladeshi grit and determination is not only reflected in their performance so far but also in the fact that most of their top players are playing despite injuries.
According to reports, Mortaza has a torn hamstring - however that hasn’t seen him sitting out any matches. He has simply been bowling off a shorter run-up to ease the pain.
The skipper is not the only one - Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Saifuddin and Mehidy Hasan are all suffering from some injury or the other but are playing through the pain.
That alone shows what this World Cup outing means to the Bangladesh cricket team and just how hungry they are for a semi-final place.
"We have to be 100 per cent in every area. Good thing that we are still in the tournament but we have to play a lot better than what we played in our previous games," said Mortaza
With 7 points in 7 matches, they have their work cut out for them against India and Pakistan - their two remaining opponents in the league stage.
However, the Bangla tigers will go into the match against India backing themselves all the way - this team has displayed more confidence than teams past and it is showing, particularly in their aggressive batting.
Shakib has been their best batsman with 476 runs in 6 matches, including a well-made 124* off 99 balls against the West Indies. Ably assisting him has been Mushfiqur Rahim who has got 327 runs in 6 matches, including an unbeaten ton against the mighty Australians.
Their bowlers have struggled a little, and especially in matches where they have lost the toss and been forced to bowl first, they have leaked a lot of runs.
India’s bowling on the other hand has been a major positive for the Men in Blue. However, coming off a loss against England, India will need to regroup and fix the chinks in their armour.
Now without Vijay Shankar, who has been ruled out of the tournament with a toe injury, India has plenty of middle order headaches. MS Dhoni is a far cry from the finisher he has been for the team and Kedar Jadhav is looking out of sorts. India’s soft centre was exposed for all to see by England in Sunday’s game, as the Men in Blue failed to make 104 runs off the last 10 overs despite having wickets in hand.
While the Bangladesh bowlers are unlikely to trouble India as much as the English did, the 2-time world champions will need to sort out their middle order woes before the knockout stage of the tournament.
Since the loss against Bangladesh in the 2007 edition, India have beaten their neighbours in two subsequent World Cup meetings. But with plenty of creases for the Men in Blue to iron out, they would do well to not get complacent against the determined, gritty and roaring Bangla tigers.