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India vs Bangladesh Semi-final, Champions Trophy 2017: Mortaza's Men Ready To Take the Big Leap

Arnab Sen |Cricketnext | Updated: June 15, 2017, 2:46 PM IST
India vs Bangladesh Semi-final, Champions Trophy 2017: Mortaza's Men Ready To Take the Big Leap

Bangladesh team in a hurdle. (Getty Images)

Birmingham: For the cricket crazy masses in Bangladesh, Mashrafe Mortaza is not the just the captain of the national cricket team, but a revolutionary leader. Mortaza, who debuted for the Bangla Tigers way back in 2001, has fought against several career threatening injuries to lead the team to a new dawn.

It was under his stewardship that Bangladesh entered the quarter-final of the 2015 ICC World Cup and are now all set to feature in their first ever semi-final of a global event, when they take on India in the last four of the Champions Trophy here, on Thursday.

LIVE BLOG: India vs Bangladesh Live Cricket Score, Champions Trophy 2017 Semi-final: Virat Kohli & Boys Raring to Go

Mortaza knows what this means for the people of Bangladesh, but chose to douse the hype surrounding the contest on the eve of the match.

"There is always big hype surrounding the semi-final matches but we have to stick to our game. We cannot think that it is India whom we are coming up against and take extra pressure. It could have been any other side. We just have to play good cricket," said the Bangladesh skipper in the pre-match post conference.

Mortaza was part of the team that beat India in the 2007 ICC World Cup and so were the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim. All these players have now matured into effective international cricketers who are leading Bangladesh's surge up the rankings in one-day internationals.

Add to that the likes of Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Soumya Sarkar and you have a team that can topple any opposition on their day. But the Bangladesh skipper wants his team to approach the game as a normal contest and not take any pressure on themselves.

"It will be good for us if we approach the match as just another match and not as a semi-final.

"Past records don't matter in a match of this magnitude and tomorrow is a new day. We are just concentrating on this match and we will try to play at our best," Mortaza added.

Tamim Iqbal in fact has been in great form in this tournament. He started off with a century against England in the tournament opener and followed that up with a solo hand of 95 against Australia, both knocks coming against good bowling attacks. He though failed to fire in the crucial match against New Zealand. Tamim has been a thorn in India's flesh earlier and has scored two centuries in 13 outings against the 'Men in Blue'.

Another player who has done well against India over the years is Mushfiqur Rahim and he too has a half-century to his name in the tournament. The duo of Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah slammed match-winning tons in the match against Kiwis, but the likes of opener Soumya Sarkar and middle-order batsmen Sabbir Rahman and Imrul Kayes haven't found the going easy. Mortaza though is not worried about the performance of his batsmen.

"You can't expect the same level of performance in a particular tournament from all the players. Some will be good and some might find it difficult," the veteran captain said.

It is the bowling though that Mortaza will be worried about as none of the frontline bowlers have produced any sparkling performance yet. And against a loaded Indian batting line-up, firing on all cylinders, Mortaza will need the likes of Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed to stand up and be counted. Mortaza though was wise enough to put the onus of responding to pressure on his opposition in the pre-match press conference

"We are playing the semi-finals for the first time but I think that India will feel more pressure that us. The burden of expectation is more on India as they have more people. But back home, people are expecting a lot from us as well. Whichever team manages to play better will win the match," said Mortaza.

The Bangladesh pace bowlers will have their task cut out against an in form Indian top order and the likes of Taskin and Rubel were seen bowling on the practice wicket under the watchful eyes of bowling coach Courtney Walsh. Whether Walsh's experience can guide the young pacers to come up with the goods against India is something that remains to be seen.

Teams:

India playing XI: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah

​​Bangladesh playing XI: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim (wicket-keeper), Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman
First Published: June 15, 2017, 8:09 AM IST

Team Rankings

RankTeamPointsRating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
FULL Ranking