India set to battle Bangladesh in first T20I at smog-covered Delhi

BCCI, Virat Kohli, Bangaldesh tour of India, Arun Jaitley Stadium, first T20I, Rohit Sharma, Shardul Thakur, Shikhar Dhawan, Washington Sundar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh cricket players during a practice session at Arun Jaitley Stadium, a day before their T20 match against India, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

As smog continues to choke the national capital, the youngsters of the Indian squad would aim to put their best foot forward while the senior players will try to get back into the groove for what will be an audition for the next year’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup.

Concerns have been raised regarding the rationale of hosting the series-opener T20 International match against Bangladesh when New Delhi is battling with the post-Diwali air pollution. However, the BCCI has refused to change the venue as the tour was scheduled as soon as the hosts left to play the World Cup in June this year.

Despite the poor air quality, the Bangladeshi players were seen practicing in their net session on Friday (November 1) and Saturday (November 2) wearing masks solely because of the fans and to abide by the ethics and rules of the sport.

The first T20I match which is a part of the Bangladesh tour of India will be played at the Arun Jaitley Stadium, New Delhi on November 3, followed by two more short formats games and two-Test matches starting November 14.

The visiting side has been supportive of the decision with head coach Russell Domingo saying, “It’s only three hours so it’s going to be easy. There may be scratchy eyes, sore throat but that’s ok. No one is dying.”

The tour which was doubtful until last week got more limelight when Bangladesh’s star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was banned for two years by the ICC for failing to report three corrupt approaches.

Also read: Conditions not ideal but no one will die: Bangladesh coach on Delhi pollution

The visitors are laying their focus on the upcoming game rather than getting demotivated by the world number one all-rounder’s ban or pollution resultant health issues.

With no names being established yet in India’s bowling line-up, it will be an opportunity for the Mumbai all-rounder Shivam Dube, his statemate Shardul Thakur and Rajasthan’s Deepak Chahar to show what they can bring to the team’s kitty.

Though there are still 20 matches to go before the national squad play’s 2020 World T20 in Australia, the team management has opined that they would want to identify a core team way ahead of the tournament.

Considering the same, this is the chance for youngsters including spin all-rounder Washington Sundar to prove themselves worthy of a spot in the squad.

In the absence of skipper Virat Kohli, stand-in captain Rohit Sharma would want to carry his Test form in the shortest format but his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan is yet to score the big knock after his comeback in the white-ball cricket from a thumb injury that cut short his England and Wales World Cup.

Among others, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Krunal Pandya and Delhi boy Rishabh Pant will look for certainty in the middle order and if Shivam Dube is handed his much-awaited India debut, he will have to be placed up in the batting order, considering his big-hitting ability.

Also read: Delhi pollution far serious than cricket match, says Gambhir

Dube’s inclusion in the playing XI will rule out both Manish Pandey and Sanju Samson because the remaining slots are likely to be taken by Yuzvendra Chahal, Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar, and Washington Sundar.

The game will be an opportunity for leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal too to earn back his place in the hosting side, who once soared in the company of Kuldeep Yadav.

With Delhi being a low-slow pitch, Chahal might find his breakthrough and an off-spinner Sundar can prove more useful than fielding leg-spinner Rahul Chahar also ruling out the chances of sporting the wrist spinners considering Sundar’s batting superiority.

For India, the tour is a chance to chalk out a strategy whether to bowl or bat first as this is identified as an issue after the failure of the top-order and disinterest of the middle-order.

Bangladesh have emerged as a potent Asian cricketing force, replacing struggling Sri Lanka in that position, but the neighbouring side has not been in the best of form, of late.

The visitors would still be a good competition, especially with their strong batting line-up of Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim and Soumya Sarker, led by skipper Mahmudullah Riyad in absence of Hasan.

Squads:

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant, K L Rahul, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur.

Bangladesh: Mahmudullah Riyad (C), Taijul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Kumer Das, Soumya Sarker, Naim Sheikh, Mushfiqur Rahim, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Aminul Islam Biplob, Arafat Sunny, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Shafiul Islam.

Match starts at 7 pm.