Having lost the first two one-dayers of the series rather embarrassingly, India's only objective should be to try and avoid a 3-0 whitewash at all costs. However, that is clearly not what under-fire skipper MS Dhoni is thinking. According to him, they would just go out and enjoy themselves, as it would be their last game of a long season. This isn't the first time the Indian captain has made such a philosophical statement. Even when India were losing Test after Test away from home, he maintained that a loss is a loss, and that whatever be the margin, it doesn't really matter.
Match: Bangladesh vs India, 3rd ODI at Mirpur
Time: Match begins at 14:30 local time (8:30 GMT | 2 PM IST)
If Bangladesh want to read between the lines, what Dhoni is stating is that they have had their fair share of matches this season, and now that the series is already lost, they will not go all out to prevent a whitewash, for it doesn't really matter. In Dhoni's dictionary words like playing for pride don't really seem to exist. This scenario presents Bangladesh with a perfect opportunity to go for the kill. The opposition captain has already admitted that they are not too keen on showing a lot of intensity. Also, Bangladesh would be extremely confident following their two comprehensive wins in the series, and would like to build on the same.
All eyes on Wednesday would be on Mustafizur Rahman, who has singlehandedly delivered the killer blows. With 11 wickets in 2 games, he has had a sensational start to his career. If, in the first game, he stunned India with his pace, in the second match, he displayed his versatility with his lethal off-cutters. Two games ago, nobody knew about Mustafizur. Now, all of a sudden, he is the talk of the town, and the next big thing in Bangladesh. Without doubt, India will be under pressure when they come up against him. But, the bowler himself will face pressure of heightened expectations.
The reason India have lost the one-day series is pretty straightforward. Their star batting line up just hasn't delivered. If India want to complete at Mirpur on Wednesday, that definitely needs to change. There has been a pattern to India's batting in the first two games, with only one batsman crossing 50. In the opening ODI, it was Rohit Sharma, and in the second one, Shikhar Dhawan. You don't win matches like that. Of course, it did not help that neither of the two openers converted their starts into big knocks. The likes of Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja have also got starts, but otherwise it has been a clueless effort.
It wouldn't be wrong to say that India did not even play their best eleven in the second game. The decision to drop Ajinkya Rahane, who has been India's most consistent batsman across formats was shocking, and India found themselves in an embarrassing situation of sorts, as his replacement Ambati Rayudu, with all due credit to him, got a duck. Certainly, Rahane needs to come back into the scheme of things for he can bat anywhere. Having said that, it is the team effort that will count. A person by the name of Virat Kohli, who has been struggling by his standards, needs to step up.
--By A Cricket Analyst