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November 22 2019
Asia Cup 2012: Bangla start the words
16 March 2012

 

Moments after Sachin Tendulkar pouched a well-judged steepler to draw the curtains on Seekkuge Prasanna’s as well as the Sri Lankan innings, Gautam Gambhir trudged out of the dressing room in a pair of shorts, tee and bathroom slippers. The southpaw, who had scored an emotional hundred, hadn’t taken the field when India went out to defend 304 under lights in their Asia Cup opener against Sri Lanka.

Understandably, Gambhir gave Wednesday’s optional session a miss. His Thursday, though, began on a ‘soothing’ note on physiotherapist Evan Speechly’s stretcher. The South African, who is un-missable thanks to his prominent moustache, got hold of Gambhir’s right thigh before subjecting the weary muscles to some stretching exercises. The former vice-captain was in obvious discomfort, but the warrior that he is, Gambhir batted for a good 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, news poured in that Gambhir would address the media. The entire contingent wanted Gambhir’s response to Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim’s comment that “when compared to Pakistan and Sri Lanka, India have a weaker attack”. But to everyone’s surprise, it was R Vinay Kumar who walked in to the press conference room. So where was Gambhir? Apparently, he was busy receiving treatment for his niggle. Kumar’s interaction with the media ended in a jiffy — he’s called as the ‘king of one-liners’ (not the funny ones) — and Gambhir was indeed on the stretcher, this time getting a back massage. Before we forget, Kumar said, “Everyone has an opinion and that is his (Rahim’s) view.”

Fact is that Gambhir will still play on Friday. And team manager Arindam Ganguly confirmed the same. But that’s beside the point. India don’t have a choice. Our forward-thinking selectors did rest Virender Sehwag, but forgot to pick the third opener for the two-week long tournament. Some things will never change in Indian cricket.

What MS Dhoni should change, though, is his XI for Friday’s match. When a player of Yusuf Pathan’s calibre is in the squad, then he can be used for a better endeavour than warming the bench. Incumbent Ravindra Jadeja managed just over 100 runs and three wickets in eight matches Down Under. And his performance (4-0-31-0) in Tuesday’s game was anything but encouraging. Praveen Kumar looked weary against Sri Lanka and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give a pumped-up Ashok Dinda a look-in. What message is the team management trying to send to domestic cricket’s top performers? Hope sanity prevails when Dhoni sits down to pick his XI.

India had massacred Bangladesh at the same venue in the 2011 World Cup. There’s no Virender Sehwag this time, but Kohli, the other centurion on February 19, 2011, is very much around and in commanding form.

India, however, need to be wary of Mashrafe Mortaza. Bangladesh have beaten India just twice (Dhaka, 2004 and Port of Spain, 2007) and the all-rounder was the man of the match on both the occasions. He would love a hat-trick, won’t he?

 

 

 

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