Depleted Bangladesh seek one last high before bowing out

Big picture: A chance to test bench strength

India have already qualified for the final of Asia Cup 2023. Bangladesh are no longer in contention. And that means Friday’s match between these two sides is a dead rubber. However, with the ODI World Cup less than a month away, it’s a chance for both teams to test their bench strength and try out any new combination they want to.

India have already ticked most boxes. Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli have been among the runs at the top. Ishan Kishan’s gritty knocks in the middle have given the team management a happy headache. KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah have not only proved their fitness but also shown excellent form. The only thing left to see is when and how Shreyas Iyer returns from back spasms he suffered just before the Super Fours game against Pakistan.

Things couldn’t have gone in a more opposite direction for Bangladesh. Besides registering just one win in the tournament so far, they have also had tough luck with injuries.

Tamim Iqbal and Ebadot Hossain were ruled out even before the tournament started. Litton Das missed the first round because of illness. After scoring 89 and 104 in successive games, Najmul Hossain Shanto suffered a hamstring injury and went back home. Now even Mushfiqur Rahim is unavailable; he has been granted an extension of leave to be with his wife, who is recovering after giving birth to their second child.

Can Bangladesh finish the tournament on a positive note?

India WWWWL (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Bangladesh LLWLW

In the spotlight: Axar Patel and Mohammad Naim

On a turning track in Colombo, where India lost all ten wickets to spin, and Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja picked up six between them, Axar Patel went wicketless in his five overs while leaking 29 runs. Before the match, Anil Kumble said on ESPNcricinfo’s Match Day that with Jadeja already in the World Cup squad as a left-arm spin-bowling allrounder, he would have considered picking R Ashwin or Washington Sundar instead of Axar. Can Axar repay the selectors’ faith?
Bangladesh opener Mohammad Naim has played all four matches for his team so far in the tournament. He got starts in every innings, and reached 20 on three occasions, but failed to convert any of them into a substantial score, with a best of 28 against Afghanistan. In his fledgling ODI career, Naim has 95 runs in eight matches at an average of 13.57 and a strike rate of 60.50. Is it time for Bangladesh to look beyond him?

On Thursday, Iyer batted in the nets during India’s optional practice session. If 100% fit, he could come in for either Kishan or Rahul. Bumrah could also be rested with Mohammed Shami replacing him. The pitch could once again decide if India go with Shardul Thakur or Axar Patel.

India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer/KL Rahul, 5 Ishan Kishan (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Shardul Thakur/Axar Patel, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Mohammed Siraj, 11 Mohammed Shami/Jasprit Bumrah

Bangladesh could consider bringing in Tanzid Hasan for Naim and Afif Hossain for Mushfiqur. Litton could don the wicketkeeping gloves.

Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 2 Tanzid Hasan/Mohammad Naim, 3 Litton Das (wk), 4 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 5 Towhid Hridoy, 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Shamim Hossain, 8 Nasum Ahmed, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Hasan Mahmud

With Colombo having hosted four games in six days, expect the pitch to be on the slower side. There’s a slight chance of rain throughout the duration of the match.

“Personally very happy with the way Hardik [the bowler] has shaped up, something that we worked for a long time. We have been planning on this, managing his workload, making sure he is fit first and is able to achieve what we expect out of him. That you could see in the last game. He has been doing that consistently – hitting that 140kph mark. Once he does that, he is a different bowler. From the team’s perspective, he is a wicket-taking option that we have.”
India’s bowling coach Paras Mhambrey on Hardik Pandya

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