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Dhoni's men start favourites

K.C. Vijaya Kumar

Recent losses in England have not done Bangladesh any good

Dambulla: The dismay that seeped in during the recent slumps in the ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies and the Tri-Series in Zimbabwe needs to be put aside as India strives for a positive spin in the current Asia Cup.

India opens it campaign with the match against Bangladesh at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium here on Wednesday.

In a clash between the ‘big boys' and the ‘minnows', M.S. Dhoni's men would be better served if they remember the defeat inflicted by Bangladesh in the 2003 World Cup at the Caribbean isles which hastened a meltdown of the then team led by Rahul Dravid.

Bangladesh's current form, however, is welcome news for India as the Shakib Al Hasan-led squad lost the two Tests in England and prior to that suffered a 0-3 defeat in the home ODIs against England. India too has had the better of the exchanges in its recent jousts with Bangladesh, be it Tests or ODIs.

Adding mettle

After a break triggered by the varying needs of rest for some and injury rehabilitation for others, Dhoni, Virender Sehwag (shoulder injury), Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar are back and add mettle to the squad.

For the trio of Rohit Sharma, fresh from his two hundreds in Zimbabwe, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli, it's time again to deliver.

In the vacuum created by Yuvraj Singh's omission, Jharkhand youngster Saurabh Tiwary, who shone for Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League, has got a slot but whether he will get a berth in the playing eleven remains to be seen.

Bangladesh has often swung between hope and prayers and in recalling Mohammad Ashraful, who has struggled for runs, the selectors seem to be displaying a bare cupboard. “We have played a lot over the last 14 months and the team is improving,” said Shakib and his men need to play at their best to spring a few surprises.

The teams:

India: M.S. Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Praveen Kumar, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Pragyan Ojha, Ashok Dinda, R. Ashwin and Saurabh Tiwary.

Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (captain), Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Jahurul Islam, Junaid Siddique, Mohammad Ashraful, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza, Naeem Islam, Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel,Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam and Suhrawadi Shuvo.

Umpires: Billy Doctrove and Bruce Oxenford. Third umpire: Ranmore Martinesz. Match referee: Andy Pycroft .

Corrections and Clarifications

(The third paragraph of a report “Dhoni's men start favourites” (“Sport”, June 16, 2010) was “In a clash between the ‘big boys' and the ‘minnows', M.S. Dhoni's men would be better served if they remember the defeat inflicted by Bangladesh in the 2003 World Cup at the Caribbean isles which hastened a meltdown of the then team led by Rahul Dravid.” It was in the 2007 World Cup held in the Caribbean that India, led by Rahul Dravid, lost to Bangladesh in a first round match.)

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