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Crisis behind them, Bangladesh look at brighter picture

Crisis can sometimes bring out the best in you.
Bangladesh were in trouble, and they played out of their skin. Bangladesh were just recovering from a player strike demanding better pay in domestic cricket when ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit banned their talismanic captain Shakib Al-Hasan for two years for not reporting multiple approaches by bookies. Their experienced opener Tamim Iqbal had already opted out of the India tour, where Bangladesh were faced with registering their first ever win.
But in smoggy Delhi, Bangladesh managed to pull off a historic win, and that too, quite comprehensively to show their stars were not missed.
So what if India are without several big names like Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav and even MS Dhoni, the emotionally-charged visitors were finally able to tick all the boxes and held on to their nerves to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20 series.
Bangladesh deployed as many as eight bowlers, did not even bowl out Mustafizur Rahman, and batted with purpose. But it was more than a win on the field for the visiting side under new captain Mahmudullah and with him, the Tigers are now believing in greater returns.
A win in Rajkot or Nagpur will be just their dream come true moment, but players aren’t thinking that far. They just want to fit nicely into the jigsaw of the bigger picture.
“We don’t know (if India are in any pressure),” said six-match-old spinner Afif Hossain, who returned figures of 3-0-11-1 at Kotla. “We are not thinking about winning or losing the series. For now, we are just focused on our job. We look to perform our best, whatever happens, it will happen later. We are just trying to perform our best from our positions,” he said.
Afif did not fall into the media bait of applying further pressure on India, who must win at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Thursday to keep the series alive.
“We are confident enough after winning the first match. We are feeling good, which will help us improve our game here,” Afif said.
India leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal credited Bangladesh for their opening show. “First of all we should appreciate Bangladesh. They played very well (at Delhi),” he said.
Even though he is the most experienced Indian bowler in this series with 32 T20Is to his name, Chahal himself is on a comeback trail having lost his place against South Africa in September. “We know we are (supposed to be) a better team but if you see the last few matches, Bangladesh have put up a proper fight. Mushfiqur (Rahim) calculated the target very well. But it is not about pressure; it is a three-match series. We are one down with two more matches to go and we believe in ourselves to bounce back,” Chahal said.
Before the start of the series, skipper Rohit Sharma had praised Bangladesh for their gutsy attitude. “I understand there are two key players missing [in their side] but they still have quality players who can upset any team. I wouldn’t say ‘upset’. I would say ‘beat’. That’s a good word to use. They are very mature cricketers now,” Sharma had said.
Chahal maintained a similar tone on Tuesday. “Bangladesh are a very decent team even in their absence (Shakib and Tamim),” he said. “All of them are experienced, even their new leg-spinner (Aminul Islam) bowled well. We are not seeing Bangladesh as a weak team just because Shakib and Tamim are not there. They are a good team and are giving us a good fight.”
MAHA THREAT
Pollution had threatened the series opener at Kotla. Now Cyclone Maha looms over the second T20 here. A washout at Rajkot on Thursday will mean Bangladesh cannot lose the series.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) reported that the cyclone is expected to hit land between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, bringing along heavy rainfall in Rajkot. The cyclone is said to be gradually weakening, but the possibility of it affecting the match on Thursday evening cannot be ruled out. The SCA Stadium, meanwhile, is in readiness for all eventualities. “The drainage system here is very good. We will need about an hour to prepare the ground in case there is rainfall on Thursday morning,” SCA secretary Himanshu Shah said.
“It had rained till about 3:30-4pm before the India-Australia one-off T20I in 2013—the one in which Yuvraj Singh fired (35-ball 77). We still had a full game,” Shah added.

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