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India vs Bangladesh | India Favourites but Bangladesh Could Still Stretch Them

The first one is yet to begin but all eyes are already on the second Test between India & Bangladesh since it will be the first time they play a day-night Test.

Karthik Lakshmanan |November 12, 2019, 6:37 PM IST
India vs Bangladesh | India Favourites but Bangladesh Could Still Stretch Them

The first one is yet to begin, but all eyes are already on the second Test between India and Bangladesh. Naturally so, given it will be the first time the two teams play a day-night Test.

A few Indian players have already begun practise with pink balls, fans are busy buying tickets, and administrators are busy getting things ready for the historic occasion.

The first Test, in Indore beginning Thursday (November 14), is almost like a formality. The lack of time between the two Tests - the second one in Kolkata starts on November 22 - means teams are practising with an eye on both games; India have booked an evening session in Indore ahead of the first Test so that they can get additional practise under lights.

All this doesn't mean India are taking Bangladesh lightly for the first Test. Virat Kohli and co are known for maintaining intensity irrespective of opposition or conditions. That explains India's record at home; they've won 11 consecutive Test series in India.

They've got a full strength squad too, with Virat Kohli back leading the side after a brief break in the T20Is. Everything about the side - batting, spin, pace and even bench strength - is solid and balanced.

On the other hand, Bangladesh come with plenty of issues. They don't have seniors Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, for varying reasons. Their pace unit has been affected by injuries. They are ranked No. 9 in Tests, and their most recent Test was a loss to the No. 10 side Afghanistan at home.

They don't even have a warm-up match before the Test series. They've come to India with a new Test captain in Mominul Haque, who even said he was 'not ready' for the role.

Yet, India will be wary of Bangladesh. They showed in the T20I series that they can give India a run for their money. Tests - against a full strength Indian squad at home - is a different ball game altogether, but Bangladesh can still compete. Anything more than 'compete' is a bonus.

It wouldn't be a surprise if Bangladesh stretch India more than South Africa did, for the obvious reason that they are a subcontinent side. They showed that the last, and only other, time they played a Test in India: Hyderabad, 2017 where Bangladesh lost, but managed to push the game to five days.

It was a big deal then considering the gap between the sides, and the fact that quite few other teams had failed to do that in that marathon Indian home season.

A large part of that was because India batted first and posted 687 for 6 in the first innings, but Bangladesh showed tremendous spirit with the bat. They batted more than 100 overs in both the innings, scoring 388 and 250.

Bangladesh must look to do an encore, and for that, they need Mushfiqur Rahim to fire. It was Rahim who led from the front last time with a century from No. 6 in the first innings, while Shakib Al Hasan and Mehedy Hasan scored half-centuries. Mahmudullah kept the fight in the second innings, scoring 64. Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah and Mehedy are in the squad this time around too.

Bangladesh were a session and a half away from salvaging a draw, which would have been a huge result. Since then, Bangladesh have gone on to win against Sri Lanka (in Colombo), Australia (home), Zimbabwe and West Indies (home). Barring their reversal against Afghanistan earlier this year and Zimbabwe last year, they have been fairly consistent in Asian conditions.

If Bangladesh can lift themselves in the first Test, they'll believe they can go in with confidence for the second. India begin the first Test as massive favourites but the scales will be slightly more level in Kolkata, given the uncertainties.

In fact, their coach Russell Domingo said as much, calling it a great opportunity to beat India.

"As the coach and some of the players and all the other senior players, we think that it's a great opportunity," Domingo had said recently. "I don't think India have played a pink-ball Test before. We haven't played a pink-ball Test. It's a massive occasion at the Eden Gardens.

"It will be a new experience for both the teams. So we are very excited about it. It will be a great occasion under the lights against one of the best teams in the world, probably the best team in the world also. So we are really looking forward to the challenge. There are some challenges but it is same for India.

"They haven't played a day-night Test match. So it will be same for both the teams, not a lot preparation time but an exciting event. Because of the pink-ball, it may help both the teams little bit close together and we are excited about the opportunity."

For now, though, how Bangladesh compete in Indore might as well set the tone for the historic Kolkata adventure.

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