We pick five talking points as India take on neighbours Bangladesh in the second World Cup quarter-final match in Melbourne on Thursday.
1. All the pressure is on India
Few expected Bangladesh to qualify for the play-offs. That prospect only became a reality once they beat England. Bangladesh beat India at the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, but they will be firm underdogs on Thursday. On paper, India have the easiest quarter-final of all the teams in the last eight. Bangladesh must use the freedom of the underdog tag to play their natural game, because they have nothing to lose.
2. Have India peaked too early?
It’s a question that’s been asked for a while now. India have always been a good ODI side, but no one expected them to be this good in Australasian conditions. They finished the pool stages unbeaten after a big win against South Africa, and will have the belief now that they can go all the way. The question is, can they maintain their good form until the final on 29 March? Everyone said Kumar Sangakkara was due a failure with the bat after scoring four consecutive hundreds in the pool stage. Can the same be said of India?
3. Top order will be key, for both teams
India’s top order boasts some of the best batsmen in the world in Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli. Dhawan has scored 337 runs in the tournament so far, while Kohli, except for their first game against Pakistan, has largely flown below the radar while still scoring an impressive 301 runs at an average of 75. India will need them to fire again, while Bangladesh will have to take early wickets, like South Africa did against Sri Lanka, if they want any chance of causing an upset.
4. Can Mahmudullah make it three in a row?
After scoring back-to-back centuries in his team’s last two pool games against England and New Zealand respectively, Bangladesh will be hoping he can go on and do it again against India. His importance in setting up a target or chasing one will be key for Bangladesh’s hopes. Mahmudullah has scored 344 runs from five games in this World Cup, more than anyone from India. Five of Bangladesh’s top 10 aggregates for batsmen in a World Cup have come in this tournament, while none of the Indian batsmen in their squad has scored a century in an ICC tournament knockout game.
5. Better death bowling
Bangladesh have conceded 9.38 runs per over in the last 10 overs at the World Cup. India’s run-rate in the last 10 overs at this World Cup has been 8.86 runs per over. Bangladesh will need to be better at the death, especially if they bowl first. Otherwise they stand the risk of chasing a big target, which will give India’s seamers plenty of leeway and allow them to be much more aggressive in the way they set their fields.