Fresh from kick-starting their World T20 campaign with a commanding victory over rivals Pakistan, India will aim to stay on track for a place in the semifinals when taking on Bangladesh in Bangalore on Wednesday. After being stunned by an opening defeat to New Zealand, the hosts and pre-tournament favorites rebounded in a high-pressure encounter in Kolkata. Continuing their 100 percent record over their neighbors in World Cups, India claimed a six-wicket victory with 13 balls remaining in a match shortened by two over a side because of rain.
There will be not let up in the pressure, though, as India fight to join New Zealand in progressing through to the semifinals from a tightly fought Group 2. Still with a negative run-rate, India cannot afford any more slip-ups.
“We are very confident,” bowler Ashish Nehra said on the eve of the match. “In this format everybody knows, from game one more or less, every game is a knockout game. Only two teams will quality, there is a possibility out of four games you win three still you won’t qualify, the format is such. So until the time you lift the trophy, every game is a knockout game, there is not too much room for error.
“The mood is good. The kind of cricket we have been playing the last two or three months, we have seen how many T20s we have played, so hopefully the kind of firepower we have, if we deliver we will definitely win the game.”
Pakistan’s defeat against New Zealand on Tuesday means that India will definitely qualify with wins against Bangladesh and in their final group game against Australia on Sunday. Anything less and they will be reliant on other results going in their favor.
For Bangladesh, any realistic chance of qualification has already gone, with them now requiring two emphatic wins and other results to go their way in order to progress. The main aim now will be to avoid going 0-4 in the Super 10 stage.
But India would be wise not to get complacent. Bangladesh have upset India before, when claiming a historic one-day series win last year. They also made it through to the final of the recent Asia Cup, when only coming up short against India. And, although they lost to Australia last time out, Bangladesh pushed one of the pre-tournament favorites almost all the way.
While Bangladesh’s batting has been less than impressive, their bowling, led by Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan, surprised Australia. They should be a test, then, for an India batting lineup that continues to be heavily reliant on Virat Kohli. Shakib, though, believes there is plenty of quality throughout their side.
“Obviously, [Kohli] is the key player for India,” he told reporters ahead of the match, reports Indian news outlet ABP Live. “They [Rohit Sharma, Shikjar Dhawan and Suresh Raina] are all match-winners and yes, they have not been among runs, but we have to be on the watch out because India has the world’s best batting lineup. So, we need to be careful and we need to be very disciplined with our bowling and fielding to restrict them.”
Match time: 10 a.m. EDT
TV channel: Willow TV