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Bangladesh's confidence was deflated in the last game when they were thumped by Afghanistan by 136 runs while India will be on a high after coming off a resounding victory against their nemesis, Pakistan. The first game of the Super Four is going to be played between India and Bangladesh and these two have shared a rivalry history of their own. Bangladesh have come a long way since their debut and now have the ability to beat any side on a given day. Since their astonishing victory in the 2007 cricket World Cup over India, Bangladesh have come inches close to defeating India in major tournaments but have always suffered heartbreak, be it the 2016 World T20 or the Nidahas Trophy Finals in Sri Lanka earlier this year, India have always got the better of them.
It is going to be a back to back game day for Bangladesh and things already have been made tough for them with their opening batsman, Tamim Iqbal ruled out of the Asia Cup owing to an injury. Their batting has certainly depleted in Tamim's absence and we could see that in the game against Afghanistan. Their star bowler, Mustafizur Rahman is also carrying a niggle and was rested against Afghanistan and is expected to be back against an all-important game against India. Their skipper, Mashrafe Mortaza is not in the best of his form but their batting remains to be their major concern. Their top order looks sceptical and in Tamim's absence, all the pressure will be on Muhfiqur Rahim and Shakib al Hasan to score big.
After their rusty performance against Hong Kong, India seemed to have got all their bases covered against their match against Pakistan. But India are also hit by injuries with their mainstay all-rounder, Hardik Pandya ruled out of the Asia Cup. Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel have also been ruled out of the remainder of the tournament owing to their injuries. Ravindra Jadeja has got a call up as a replacement and will be part of India's limited overs squad after almost a year. India will miss the services of Pandya as they lose a batsman and a fast bowler and having a fast bowling all-rounder provided the team with the much needed balance.
With Pandya's absence, it'll be interesting to see who replaces him in the XI. They can go for Jadeja, the obvious choice which will then mean India will be fielding 4 spinners in Chahal, Kuldeep, Jadeja and Jadhav and just 2 pacers. Or India can opt to bring back Khaleel Ahmed to add variety to their bowling attack which in turn will weaken their batting to some extent. Apart from that one change, it looks unlikely that India will make any other change until there is an unexpected injury to a player.
The match is in Dubai and the pitch is expected to play the same as it did in previous matches. The pitch is flat and has little to offer to the bowlers and it gets better for the batsmen under lights. It might be a considering point for the captain winning the toss and he might just choose to bowl first. India's middle order is yet to be tested and the openers, Rohit and Shikhar will once again play a crucial role in India's batting performance. Dhawan has had two good games back to back and Rohit was in the groove in the previous game against Pakistan.
Even though India start as favourites, there will be no room for complacency and India will go out with the full intent of dismantling the opposition. Bangladesh will be eying to bring out their A-game to stun India and put up a great contest.
Catch all the action from the 1st match of the Super Four stage of the Unimoni Asia Cup between India and Bangladesh at Dubai Internation Stadium in Dubai, Friday, 21st September, 5:00 PM IST.