Shruti Chopra and Suneer Chowdhary discuss the one-off Test between India and Bangladesh that will be played in Hyderabad from February 9. Hear their preview and analysis or read the excerpts of that discussion for the World Cricket Chat.
Going into this one-off Test, India and Virat Kohli must be on some sort of a high with those Test series wins against New Zealand and England and then the ODI and T20I victories against England again…
…and Test series wins against West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka as well since Kohli took over the captaincy – and admittedly, I thought England would swoop down on at least one of the ODI or the T20I series when they were in India but right now, as you said, India are on a roll and their juggernaut looks like it will be difficult to stop even for Bangladesh.
Wonder how many thought India would win the Test series against England by a 4-0 margin after their first drawn Test…but moving on to this series against Bangladesh, what do you make of the Indian squad?
Nothing succeeds like success, and as I mentioned earlier, those results in the lead-up to this Bangladesh Test point to stable selection policies despite the odd surprise here and there. Here again, Parthiv Patel could have been retained as a back-up opener once Wriddhiman Saha was back as the main keeper following his double-century in the Irani Trophy – instead, the selectors have opted to drop him and bring in Abhinav Mukund. Again, Mukund has had a good Ranji Trophy season with the bat and against tough opponents, so his selection is well-deserved too. But the real talking point for me will be the number five spot…
…and I remember you having conducted a poll on Twitter to understand what people thought of that number five slot too!
Yes, I did, it was to understand what cricket fans thought who should make it to the playing XI, Ajinkya Rahane or Karun Nair. Rahane is the vice-captain of the side but got injured and Nair replaced him and hammered that triple-century in the Chennai Test. What do you do now?
Drop a batsman coming off a 300 or drop your tried and tested deputy skipper? You know, interestingly, on that poll, the option to get most votes was to play them both in the XI! Which might have been possible had it been MS Dhoni who is happy to field four frontline bowlers but Kohli has almost got rid of that tactic unless the pitch looks to be a brute – I am still expecting R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Saha and one of Jayant Yadav or Hardik Pandya to make the 6, 7, 8 and 9 which leaves just one slot for Rahane and Nair to fight for.
Who would you play?
Very tough call Shruti but I would go with Rahane…creates a sense of stability among the players they wouldn’t lose their spot if they got injured. Somewhat like the case with the Saha v Parthiv situation.
Moving on to Bangladesh, what do you make of Bangladesh, the Test side as opposed to their ODI and T20I teams?
There has been a marked improvement in Bangladesh’s white-ball cricket but they have endured obvious struggles with the red ball – and their 2-0 defeat at the hands of New Zealand recently was an indicator.
But there are signs that give them the right conditions and they won’t fall easy prey to their opponents..watching them draw their two-match Test series against England in their own backyard gives me a strong sense they might provide a better fight than England did when they were in India but there’s a catch – India might not provide Bangladesh with as spin-friendly a pitch as those back in Mirpur and Chittagong and as was the case during the England series.
Will their spinners then be able to hold their own is the question…
Which is what seemed to have happened during the warm-up game against India A as well, bowled out for 224 and then allowed India A to rattle away 461 for eight…
Exactly my point. Look, I know it’s a warm-up game where visiting teams are trying out different things and combinations but three batsmen smashed centuries for India A and neither of them was even dismissed even when the Bangladesh top-order struggled against the inexperienced Aniket Choudhary.
What makes it worse for Bangladesh is they have lost Imrul Kayes to an injury which means Soumya Sarkar will have to open the innings. And Mehedi Hasan, who bagged 19 wickets in two Tests against England – which was also his maiden Test series – was clattered for 92 runs from his 16 overs.
Again, results of warm-up games must be taken with a pinch of salt but we all know what happened when Shane Warne was clattered for runs in Australia’s warm-up game against Mumbai before the 1998 Test series against India – mentally, he was shattered and was clinically dissected in the Tests that followed.
Interesting analogy…and so much like that 1998 series, do you expect India to start favourites?
Yes I do, but Bangladesh might give a better fight than England did…we must also remember this is Bangladesh’s first time in India and even Sri Lanka have found it really tough to win games in India, they are yet to win a Test in the country, having played 17, lost 10 and drawn seven. India to make it their eighth Test win of the season for me.
Shruti, I’ll be surprised if you don’t go with India.. but let me ask you.. why? Why is India your favourite for this Test?
Yes, no surprises from me on that one – It IS Tarot Advantage India because India have better balance and a very strong, first innings with the bat and ball. In fact, it’s very possible that India could win this by an innings or by a large margin because Bangladesh may have such a terrible start that it may be tough for them to recover.