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Will India overcome past nemesis B'desh?

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Published: Friday, February 18, 2011, 10:09 [IST]
 
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Will India overcome past nemesis B'desh?

India is fast approaching a moment of truth. Is it ready to overcome its past World Cup nemesis as the two sides reconvene on cricket's greatest stage? Has India mustered up the gumption and confidence needed to overpower a side which almost shirks its minnow's tag by projecting itself as something much bigger than it is? The inaugural day of the World Cup 2011 holds the much-awaited answer.

The statistics however seem to weigh in India's favour. Since that infamous day on March 17 2007 -- when Bangladesh consigned India to a humiliating 5-wicket defeat as the lowly team's bowlers restricted India to a paltry 191 before their batsmen spiked the biggest guns in our bowling arsenal to surpass that total -- India has won every one of its 7 encounters against these opponents.

Indeed, India's track record of the last quartet of years against Bangladesh has been encouraging to say the least. In that period, India's most convincing win against the side came in the Asia Cup in the neutral territory of Sri Lanka's Dumbulla on June 16, 2010 when they limited Bangladesh to a meagre 167, thanks to a deadly 4/6 spell from Virender Sehwag. Then Gambhir raised his flat cudgel to knock off 82 off 101, helping his side to romp home by 6 wickets with 116 balls to spare. That one-day engagement was also the last time these two teams met.

If the venue holds any importance in the winning equation for India, then the team can take solace in the fact that they have won all 5 of their encounters against Bangladesh at the latter's backyard ground - the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka - where Saturday's match will also be played.

India's most emphatic win at this venue came on June 12, 2008 when they thundered home by 7 wickets with 89 balls to spare. In that match, India bowled out the Bangladeshis for 222 before Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag laid into the latter's bowling from the word "go". The opening pair gave their opponents no quarter, making 107 off 101 balls and 59 off 32 balls, respectively.

Even India's last much at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium ended in victory for the visitors. The date was Jan 11, 2010 when despite Bangladesh posting a relatively competitive target of 247, India eased to a win with Virat Kohli making 102 off 95 balls.

But India will do well to take heed of the fact that Bangladesh is capable of securing a back-door win like it did at the World Cup 2007. Luckily, one of India's most intimidating demons from that match - Mashrafe Mortaza, who took 4/38 - is not in the squad for the upcoming World Cup. But the three batsmen that excelled with gritty half-centuries in that game - Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and captain Shakib Al Hasan - have all grown in stature and their hunger for runs has only surged.

Wednesday's defeat to Pakistan where Bangladesh conceded 285 in 50 overs when having Pakistan at 58/3 in 15 overs at one stage, only goes to show that their attack has lost its sting. But India will still have to be wary of the spin twins Abdur Razzaq and Shakib Al Hasan who can topple a lot of wickets between them on their day.

For India, the key players definitely include Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli who have 2 and 1 century, respectively, under their belt against Bangladesh. Meanwhile, in the bowling department, perhaps, Piyush Chawla and R Ashwin are capable of wreaking the most havoc.

Finally, India is going into the World Cup with the momentum of two warm-up wins against high-profile teams. So it should be able to wrest victory from Bangladesh without too much difficulty. At any rate, the Indian fans will certainly be praying that they do!

Oneindia Cricket

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