India would undergo a change of guard and heart against Bangladesh on Thursday when Mahendra Singh Dhoni will lead for the first time since the World Cup.
Since Dhoni’s sudden retirement from Tests midway in an away series against Australia last year and Word Cup loss in Cup semifinals against the same opponents, much has changed in the governance of Indian cricket.
While Dhoni’s Test withdrawal facilitated the emergence of Virat Kohli as skipper, India’s flop World Cup defence fast-tracked the removal of passive Zimbabwean coach Duncan Fletcher for a more agile and exertive team director Ravi Shastri.
Dhoni’s much acclaimed calm and composed style of captaincy was also swapped for a combustible approach to leadership by a younger, brasher Kohli.
The team has sought to move on to greener pastures since the Cup heartache but would have to fall back upon the tried and tested leadership of Dhoni to move them forward.
Their first endeavour in the one-off Test match against Bangladesh at Fatullah was ruined by rain. And not much is expected to change in the three-match One-Day International (ODI) series starting Thursday.
All three matches at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium will be day-night contests with the likelihood of rains ruining the match, partially or entirely, a realistic possibility.
With a change in the format of the game, dynamics of both squads would also underdgo a variation.
India remain the stronger unit with a more balanced side but the hosts are not pushovers anymore, particularly after a drastically improved Word Cup performance.
Pacer Mashrafe Mortaza, whose leadership skills have transformed the side, would take over the mantle of captaincy from Mushfiqur Rahman.
Their uninhibited run in the World Cup was halted by India in the quarters. But the manner of which brought much hostility among the two cricketing boards, with Bangladesh alleging partial umpiring decisions contributing to their loss, which culminated in the resignation of Bangladesh’s Mustafa Kamal as International Cricket Council’s (ICC) president.
Both teams have consciously tried to underplay the consequence of such a dramatic action and it remains to be seen if they can walk the talk.
Bangladesh have improved by leaps and bounds even after the World Cup super show, even whitewashing Pakistan 3-0 in a home series. They would fancy their chances of continuing the new-found momentum and have named Rahman and wicketkeeper Litton Das in the squad.
But their star man would again be all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.
India have also retained an almost similar team that went to the World Cup with the only talking point being the inclusion of all-rounder Stuart Binny in the first team, following his success in Bangladesh last year.
Bangladesh squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Nasir Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossain, Rony Talukdar, Mustafizur Rahman, Liton Das.
India squad: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohit Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Stuart Binny, Axar Patel. (IANS)