With the hype of the Indian Premier League (IPL) behind them, which was preceded by an impressive World Cup campaign, Team India now look forward to taking on Bangladesh in a relatively low-key one-off Test. While India have never lost a Test to Bangladesh till date in seven meetings, their encounter at Fatullah will be their toughest so far since Bangladesh will be high on confidence having beaten Pakistan in a three-match one day series although they failed to repeat the performance in the longer version. Bangladesh would still be taking a lot of confidence from their World Cup success.
Match: India vs Bangladesh Only Test at Fatullah
Time: Match begins at 10:00 local time (4:00 GMT | 9:30 AM IST)
For India, the Fatullah Test would mark the beginning of a new era. Although Virat Kohli has led India before, this is his first series in charge as leader albeit a one-Test one. While it is good in a way that he is beginning with a low pressure game, he cannot afford to slip as there would be plenty of backlash in case India stumble against Bangladesh. On paper they are the stronger of the two sides, and are expected to win. Before heading to Bangladesh, Kohli had stressed on the fact that India need to start winning matches, and must also work on their fitness. Bangladesh is a good place to start the process.
With KL Rahul being ruled out due to injury, the Indian think tank would have it easy as they look to select the XI for Fatullah. Murali Vijay, who was in brilliant form in Australia, should open with Shikhar Dhawan, who has resurrected his one-day career, but still has to prove himself in the longer version in spite of a fantastic start to his career. The Test will be crucial for Cheteshwar Pujara since he has struggled in recent times. He had a terrible tour of England, and his performance in Australia was only slightly better. Pujara was expected to be India's anchor in the new side, so it isn't surprising that his failures have coincided with those of Team India.
Rohit Sharma is another player who needs to get among the runs in the Test format, for he too has struggled to perform in the five-day version. With Suresh Raina's failure, he doesn't have any competition at number six for now, but he cannot take his place for granted. Sharma had a poor Test tour of Australia, and his spot in the five-day game will be under the scanner. In the bowling, the biggest decision India will have to make is whether to play comeback man Harbhajan Singh or Karn Sharma, along with Ravichandran Ashwin. A win wouldn't be celebrated in India's case, but it's a no-win situation as they cannot afford to lose.
Bangladesh have had a memorable time recently as mentioned earlier, with the World Cup performance, followed by the ODI whitewash against Pakistan. But, their Test form remains disappointing. They couldn't pull off a win against Pakistan. Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim will be the key for them again, along with openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes. In the bowling, they will look up to Rubel Hossain and Taijul Islam. It goes without saying that in the all-round department, they would have high hopes from Shakib Al Hasan. Can Bangladesh transform their one-day form into a Test win?
--By A Cricket Analyst