हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Team India out to bury World Cup wounds in Bangla

Published: Wednesday, May 9, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
 
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Dhaka:With the World Cup embarrassment still fresh in the memory and the wounds yet to heal, skipper Rahul Dravid will enter Sher-e-Bangla Jatiya Stadium on Thursday for the first of the three one-day series against Bangladesh with only a clean sweep on his mind.

The idea would be to make it 2-0 over the next three days, before heading for the picturesque port city of Chittagong for the final ODI. Dravid asked his boys to 'play hard' and not underestimate the prowess of the new and improved Bangladesh squad.

The skipper made his intentions clear when he said, ''Bangladesh have improved a lot. There are no doubts about that. They are playing very good cricket. We expect stiffer challenge than what we got on our last visit here. And we are aware of it.'' ''We expect to do well here. They (Bangladesh) played really well against us in Trinidad. We have come here to play some tough cricket. We will show that we can play really well,'' he added.

India was thrashed by five wickets by Bangladesh in World Cup and he made it clear that he had no intention of seeing the same being repeated during this series.

The Wall, as he is often dubbed, quipped, ''Any international series is significant. Irrespective of what happened before we have come here to play good tough cricket and we hope to do well.'' While he made it clear that ''revenge is not on my mind as these things happen in international cricket,'' he was not going to compromise with asserting India's supremacy and prove that the World Cup wasn't anything but an aberration.

However, he has his hands full. The team is without a vice-captain and though he said yesterday that the best team will play, it will be hard for him to pick the best combination.

''We have quite a few youngsters whom we need to groom, but we will select our best team, which will hopefully win us the game,'' said Dravid.

The problem is he knows from precedence that too much tinkering with the side may boomerang as it did three years ago when Bangladesh came roaring back in Dhaka after being defeated in Chittagong.

That time Sourav Ganguly and coach John Wright had payed for the luxury of experimenting one time too many with the side.

So the question is will Dravid tread the beaten path of going with seven batsmen and four bowlers with the likes of Virender Sehwag and Dinesh Mongia or Yuvraj Singh chipping in to fulfill the fifth bowler's quota or will he go with five specialist bowlers.

The team has a new cricket manager in Ravi Shastri, bowling coach in Venkatesh Prasad and fielding coach in Robin Singh.

In fact, for the first time ever the team is traveling with a bowling and fielding coach.

The squad has a few surprises. Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly has been oficially 'rested' for the ODIs.

Youngsters in Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and rookies Manoj Tewari and Piyush Chawla are in and so is journeyman Dinesh Mongia who gets yet another chance to redeem himself.

Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar and Irfan Pathan have been dropped and sent back to the classrooms of domestic cricket. The mantle is now with Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Zaheer Khan to deliver.

There are three openers in Gambhir, Uthappa and Sehwag in contention and one middle order slot would go to Dinesh Kaarthik for sure now as Manoj Tewari is out of contention at least for the first two ODIs with a shoulder injury.

Obviously the selectors don't have much faith in Sehwag and has kept a back-up ready. It will be a series when he has to turn around and show some of the blitzkrieg he is known for. The once-swashbuckler though seems to have put the best foot forward losing some good 20 pounds and practicing hard at nets.

Traditionally the Mirpur wicket goes low and slow in the second half and we will have to wait and watch what bowling combination Rahul picks. With three part time spinners in the batting line-up it looks like one spinner and three pacers anyway.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh skipper Habibul Bashar wants to end his ODI career on another high. There are speculations of the batsman retiring from the ODIs after the series with India and he would certainly want to end on a positive note.

''This will be my last one-day series at home and I want to leave on a high. I am saying this because we don't play any more one dayers at home this year.

''I don't see myself continuing in limited overs cricket by the time the next one-day series is held in Bangladesh. Definitely the target is to get back among the runs and help the team,'' said Bashar who did not want to predict an outcome despite India coming without stalwarts Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly for the ODI series and under a new team management.

''We should not look too much into those things. They are still a formidable unit and it will be a tough series. It is also not wise to go into a series with a result in mind. I will be happy if we can play to our potential.

''One win will be good and if the opportunity arises we might go for a series win but the goal is to be competitive. The weather and other conditions will not be unfamiliar to India and possibly the only advantage we have is the fact that we are playing in our backyard,'' said Bashar.

Bashar's newly appointed deputy Mohammad Ashraful also echoed the same sentiments.

''They will come at us hard as they probably lost out on a Super Eight spot because we beat them,'' said Ashraful.

''Definitely the absence of Tendulkar and Ganguly is a massive handicap for them as those two can win matches on their own but we should be concentrating on our own game. We can beat the very best, we have shown that in the past, and if everything clicks for us we can expect something good out of this series,'' Ashraful added.

The team has a few exciting cricketers who could turn the game on its head on any given day. Tamim Iqbal, Aftab Ahmed and Mohammed Ashrafful are in the middle of a purple patch. While Saqibul and Razzak could be a handful for the batsmen with their guile.

The bad news is Bangldesh's tearaway fast bowler Mashrafe Mortaza could miss the first ODI with a back sprain. He was the wrecker-in-chief in Trinidad scalping four wickets against India.

Squads:

India: Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid (capt), Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Dinesh Mongia, Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan and R Power.

Bangladesh: Habibul Bashar (capt), Mohammad Ashraful (vice-capt), Javed Omar, Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Aftab Ahmed, Saqibul Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mashrafe Mortaza, Syed Rasel, Abdur Razzak, Shahadat Hossain, Mohammad Rafique and Farhad Reza.

Umpires: Ashoka de Silva (SL) and Nadir Shah (Ban).

Match referee: Roshan Mahanamma (SL).

UNI

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