Cricket mad Bangladesh is currently football mad. The ongoing FIFA World Cup is not only watched in this country, but celebrated in every corner, with the sport having the most talk. The visiting Indian players were welcomed by flags of Brazil and Argentina in the buildings overlooking their training ground in Dhaka. Cricket paraphernalia are few and far between for what is the BCB’s first major home series this season. International cricket, even though it is India’s first ODI in Bangladesh in seven years, will have to do as a secondary sport of choice.
Rohit Sharma is back as India’s ODI captain, with KL Rahul as his deputy. Virat Kohli has also returned to the side. The comeback of the star players in this format signals that India is starting preparations for next year, having sent a second-tier side to the recently concluded tour of New Zealand.
Bangladesh will miss the services of two star players: ODI regular captain Tamim Iqbal, who had previously withdrawn from the series due to a groin injury, and Taskin Ahmed, who was ruled out of the series due to a back injury.
Both players are in good form in ODIs. Tamim has led the side to direct qualification for the World Cup while scoring important points, and Taskin is now seen as the linchpin of the speed attack. Litton Das, who will lead the hosts, also plays an important role with the bat, opening against a solid Indian bowling attack.
Litton will have seniors in Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah to count on, while Afif Hossain, Yasir Ali and Anamul Haque are expected to strengthen their respective roles.
India wouldn’t want to take Bangladesh lightly this time around, especially at home, where the hosts have not lost a bilateral ODI series since defeat to England in October 2016. Meanwhile, Bangladesh will rely on their experienced players to see them through.
bangladesh: WLLWW (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Virat Kohli is 30 runs short of becoming the second foreign batsman to score 1000 runs in ODIs in Bangladesh, where he averages 80.83. Being in red-hot form in T20Is lately, Kohli couldn’t be a better place to get back into the groove in ODIs, averaging 21.87 in eight matches in the format this year.
Shakib batting at number 3 should ease Tamim’s absence. It would also allow Bangladesh to play an extra batter, usually Yasir Ali. Taskin is also missing, meaning Ebadot could get a nod for his pace.
bangladesh (likely): 1 Litton Das (capt), 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Afif Hossain, 7 Yasir Ali, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Hasan Mahmud, 10 Mustafizur Rahman , 11 Ebadot Hossain.
With Shami ruled out of the series on the eve of the first ODI, young speedy Umran Malik has been called up as a replacement. Unless India decides to debut Kuldeep Sen, it is likely that both Shardul Thakur and Deepak Chahar will play. But India’s at bat is back at full strength.
India (likely): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Shreyas Iyer, 5 KL Rahul, 6 Rishabh Pant (wk), 7 Washington Sundar, 8 Axar Patel, 9 Shardul Thakur, 10 Deepak Chahar, 11 Mohammed Siraj
Location and conditions
It will be a typical Mirpur pitch, but not the raging turner we often see in Test cricket. The Shere Bangla Stadium last hosted an ODI in May 2021, but the pitch has mostly yielded scores to the senior side while batting first. Dhaka is slightly cooler and no rain is forecast.
Statistics and tidbits
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent in Bangladesh. @isam84