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Champions eye winning start against Tigers

There cannot be a greater mismatch than India versus Bangladesh on a cricket pitch. India are one of cricket’s most marketable and followed teams.

They’re the defending ICC World Twenty20 champions and the ‘rockstars’ of cricket. India’s loss in a major tournament or a game makes for bigger news than a victory.

Bangladesh, on the other hand, are the poor cousins of the subcontinent. But if ever there’s a leveller in cricket, then it’s the T20 format.

As India and Bangladesh face each other for the opening match of Group A at Trent Bridge here on Saturday, Bangladesh will hope to do what they did to India in the 2007 World Cup in Port-of-Spain.

After all, they have been the giantslayers over the past four years. They beat India and South Africa in the 50-over World Cup in 2007 in the West Indies and entered the Super Eights.

They knocked out West Indies in the ICC World T20 in 2007 in South Africa to progress to the Super Eights there as well. Standing in their way, though, are an Indian side that’s rich in T20 experience. Thanks to the IPL, MS Dhoni’s boys know exactly what to do in pressure situations.

The efficiency with which the Indians polished off Pakistan in the second warm-up game at the Oval on Wednesday was almost scary for the opponents. And it was achieved without the presence of the man who puts the fear of god in any bowling line-up, Virender Sehwag. Sehwag’s shoulder injury makes his participation in the opening game uncertain.

The spearhead of the attack, Zaheer Khan, is also suffering from a shoulder problem and looks almost certain to miss the match. While Zaheer’s absence and the poor form of RP Singh in the death overs weakens the seam bowling lineup somewhat, the batting looks in excellent health. Rohit Sharma appears to be in sublime touch, Gambhir too has returned to the form that he has shown in the last 18 months.

Although Yuvraj Singh and Yusuf Pathan didn’t get a hit on Wednesday, his destructive ability is well-chronicled. Raina and Dhoni can do the dual role of grafting and attacking.

Only two factors can undermine their efforts of getting off to a winning start to their title defence: Complacency and the weather. While Indian skipper MS Dhoni, who surprised everybody by turning up at the nets on a very cold and dull Friday morning here on match eve (he was supposed to be at Lord’s for the opening ceremony), will take care of the former, he has no control over the latter.

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