Virat Kohli spoke with glowing respect about India’s opponents on Thursday, stating there can be no guarantees against Bangladesh these days, given their rise to No6 in the one-day world rankings and their toppling of New Zealand last week.
Kohli’s defending champions are overwhelming favourites on a fresh pitch at Edgbaston but this has been a tournament of upsets so far, none more so than when Mashrafe Mortaza’s side chased down 266 at Sophia Gardens last Friday, which ultimately booked their semi-final place.
“We’ve been in these kind of games before quite a few times but there are no guarantees in this sport,” said Kohli, who is chasing a first global trophy as captain.
“They have cricketers who are skilled, who are committed and play with a passion – that shows in their attitude. They were outstanding the way they applied themselves [against New Zealand] – they showed a lot of composure and patience, and that is always a sign of a side that is mature now, that knows how to win matches from difficult situations.”
India intend to keep an unchanged side from Sunday’s win against South Africa that secured their passage after a wobble against Sri Lanka, retaining the spinner Ravi Ashwin in place of Umesh Yadav, despite the strapping fast bowler being one of the destroyers of Bangladesh when they were bowled out for 84 in a pre-tournament warm-up at The Oval.
Bangladesh won their most recent official meeting, a 2-1 home series win in 2015, but have toppled India only once before in a global 50-over event, the historic five-wicket victory in Port of Spain during the 2007 World Cup that had seismic implications for that edition’s finances and the tournament’s future format.
Yuvraj Singh, who is in line for his 300th one-day international appearance on Thursday, and MS Dhoni are the two Indian cricketers in the current set-up to lose that day, with Tamim Iqbal, Mashrafe, Shakib-al-Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim still going strong for Bangladesh as experienced architects of their rise up the global ladder over the past two years.
While Mashrafe, the current captain and a seam bowler, is hindered by his knees these days, the other three have all fired in the current campaign. Tamim has struck 223 runs from the top of the order, Shakib’s 114 felled New Zealand in a stand of 224 with Mahmudullah from 33 for four, while Mushfiqur remains an ever‑chuntering presence behind the stumps and chalked up an impish 79 in their opening defeat by England.
“We’re playing in a semi-final for the first time in our life but if it’s pressure, I think India have got more pressure than us because the huge population is there and people love cricket in India a lot,” said Mashrafe, whose side were grateful for rain which helped secure a point against Australia in the group stage and which kept them alive in the tournament given they were staring at defeat.
“Both teams have a lot of expectations. If you take it as a semi-final, the pressure will be going very hard. But if you think it’s just another match the pressure will come a lot easier.”