Colombo: India's inexperienced cricket team will have to recover quickly from the eye-opening loss to Sri Lanka and lift its game by a few notches against an unpredictable Bangladesh in the Nidahas Twenty20 Trophy on Thursday.
Sri Lanka, who have been beaten fair and square by India in their umpteen battles over the past six months, pulled one back in style on yesterday courtesy Kusal Perera's special knock (a 37-ball 66). The home team's surprise victory has also spiced up the tournament, which until yesterday, was expected to be dominated by India.
Defending a decent 174 for five, the inexperienced bowling attack did not have an answer to Perera's relentless aggression. Yuvzendra Chahal, the only frontline spinner in the eleven, too was not spared. Captain Rohit Sharma, however, backed the young guns to deliver against Bangladesh.
"Our bowlers tried everything they could, but sometimes it doesn't come off the way you want it to. I felt we have enough experience in our bowling line-ups. Yes, they are new in the scene, but they've put in performances. I had a lot of confidence going into the game," said Rohit after the five-wicket loss.
"We are blessed to have a squad that has good batting depth, we also have a couple of allrounders. Hopefully we'll come back strong," he added. India managed to recover from a bad start and post a par score, as put by Rohit, who fell cheaply alongside Suresh Raina to leave the team at nine for two.
The shaky beginning led to India reaching 40 for two by end of Powerplay while Sri Lanka raced to 75 for two, proving to be the difference in the end. "It was in the first six overs that they took the game away from us," said Shikhar Dhawan, who continued his good run with an entertaining 90 off 49 balls.
How Rohit and Dhawan start will always be important for India's chances but against Bangladesh, they would like to score more in the death overs than they did against Sri Lanka. Rohit is not expected to make many changes in the eleven but Axar Patel, who is the most experienced spinner in the squad, might get to bowl alongside Chahal.
The talented KL Rahul too sat out of the first game but as the opening combination is settled, it remains to be seen if he gets to bat in the middle-order. Washington Sundar was the pick of the bowlers against Sri Lanka, striking twice at an acceptable economy rate of seven runs per over.
In the absence of the rested Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the likes of Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat need to up their game in the unforgiving death overs. Thakur leaked as many as 27 runs in his first over against Sri Lanka but bounced back well to concede only three in his next attempt.
Facing Bangladesh in the shortest format has always been challenging for India and it will be no different tomorrow. Mahmudullah will continue to lead the side in absence of the injured Shakib Al Hasan, who also missed the T20 and Test series against Sri Lanka at home.
Having lost the Tests, T20s and the ODI tri-series final (all to Sri Lanka), Bangladesh will be desperate to buck the recent trend. Senior batsman Tamin Iqbal said the team is not having the best of times at the moment but is confident of a turnaround.
"It will be a different challenge here for me and also our team. We know that we are not in the best of form as a team but this can happen as I have said it's normal for a batsman and a bowler, we go through good form and bad patches. So, as a team it is quite normal for that to happen," said Iqbal.
"I think in some cases we are panicking a lot and I feel we need to curb that since, as a team, you have to accept that when things are not going well, we should not be panicking and we need to go back to the basics," he added.