India have announced a second-string squad for the series against Bangladesh, and while the decision was on expected lines given India’s tight international and domestic schedule, it is also true that India cannot take the Bangladeshis lightly. Although Bangladesh remain an inconsistent side at the international stage, they have been winning a lot more games against bigger sides in recent years, especially when the conditions have been in their favour. India would do well to remember that Bangladesh had reached the finals of the Asia Cup in 2012, and almost pulled off an incredible win against Pakistan.
As for their personal record against Bangladesh, India have been embarrassed a few times over the years, a bit too much for one of the top sides in the world. The shock defeat in the 2007 World Cup opener instantly springs to mind, but there have been a few others as well, including the loss in the 2012 Asia Cup, in the same match where Sachin Tendulkar crawled to his 100th international hundred. India must keep in mind that these setbacks came when they played with a full-strength squad, and with a weakened side, their chances of win only get thinner.
One of the reasons India aren’t sending a strong side across to Bangladesh is clear; they still do not rate a series against their Asian opponents very highly. As Mushfiqur Rahim rightly pointed out, India are taking the series very lightly, which reflects in their team selection. The Indians would be confident of pulling off a win in the three-match ODI series to be played in Dhaka. In such a short series though anything can happen if you lose one game early. Thus India must be aware of the dangers ahead. A slip in Bangladesh would be extremely embarrassing.
Looking at the Indian squad, Suresh Raina should consider himself lucky to have been appointed leader. Of course, in the absence of the other seniors, he is the most experienced players, but for someone who himself was dropped from the team over lack of form, the elevation to leadership, even temporarily, is surprising. By that yardstick, Yuvraj Singh should have been recalled and asked to captain the team. True, Raina again scored over 400 runs in the IPL, but if the selectors are going by IPL form, even Manish Pandey deserved a look in.
Expectedly, of the squad that has been picked, most are fresh legs, and would be keen to leave a mark in Bangladesh. Left-arm spinner Akshar Patel impressed all during the IPL, and was thus given a berth in the squad. Among the others, Kedar Jadhav has been knocking on the doors of the selectors for a while, and gets his chance now. A lot of players are also making their comebacks, prominent among them being Robin Uthappa, the Orange Cap holder in IPL 7. He must grab the opportunity that has been his way after a long time with both hands.
Even with a weakened squad, India would be favourites, but they can take Bangladesh lightly at their own peril.
--By A Cricket Analyst