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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

India look too short for Bangladesh showdown

Tigers can show their claws

Shakib Al Hasan could carry the Bangladesh fight
1 of 1

Champions Trophy semi-final
Sky Sports 2, 10.30am Thursday

Just over two weeks ago India and Bangladesh met for the first time in a one-day international in England.

It wasn’t an official match, merely a warm-up tussle for the Champions Trophy, though for anyone wishing to use it as a guide for punting purposes for the second semi-final from Edgbaston, it seemed hugely revealing.

India batted first and cruised to 324 for seven. So serene was their progress that Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni didn’t even bother padding up. Bangladesh in reply were reduced to 22 for six and eventually skittled for 84, blown away by the Indian pacemen.

It wasn’t an official international but the gulf in class was telling and it’s a gulf that has existed ever since the Tigers started to mix it with the big boys. These nations have met 32 times in 50-over contests and Bangladesh have won only five of them, four of which were in Dhaka.

So a mismatch? Quite possibly, but we’ve seen enough in this competition, on competitive wickets and with weather interventions which seem to skew everything, to know that odds can be defied.

India’s fielding has been average in parts, their lower order has hardly been tested and the Edgbaston strip will be losing its zip after heavy usage. All of these things, coupled with Pakistan’s heroics against the odds on Wednesday, will help to have the Bangla boys believing.

That said, the favourites, despite all their obvious advantages, look too short at 1-4 even though the weather seems set fair for Birmingham. Form, pedigree and plenty more point to a win for Kohli’s top-class side, but Bangladesh are nobody’s mugs any more.

Tamim Iqbal, for example, didn’t play in that debacle on May 30 at The Oval and has since chalked up a hundred against England while the 224-run partnership between Shakib al Hasan and Mahmudullah against New Zealand – when a tournament exit was staring them in the face – showed a maturity too rarely seen in Bangladesh batting.

Shakib’s confidence must have soared after that impressive innings and he looks the value at 11-2 to be top Bangladesh scorer.

As for India, it’s hard to look beyond their rock-solid top four, who provided the foundation for 300-plus totals against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and then led their country to a crushing eight-wicket win against South Africa. At the prices, Yuvraj, playing his 300th match, is a decent pick at 8-1.

Use of the new ball could be decisive and there’s no doubt that in Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and, if selected, Umesh Yadav, India have an attack of sub-five economy rates and wicket-taking intent. They’ve already taken Bangladesh apart once this summer and will believe they can do so again.

Y Singh top India scorer
1pt 8-1 general
S Al Hasan top Bangladesh scorer
1pt 11-2 Sky Bet

India, despite all their obvious advantages, look too short at 1-4 even though the weather seems set fair for Birmingham
E.W. Terms
Sky bet