Stung by their first-ever series defeat against Bangladesh, underfire India will look to salvage some pride and prevent the hosts from registering a rare clean sweep when they go into the third and final cricket one-dayer on Wednesday.
After being outplayed in the first two ODIs to give the hosts an unassailable 2-0 lead, the visitors have faced severe criticism from all quarters, but beleaguered skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni insists that the current team has the best available players.
The Men in Blue have been outplayed in virtually every department of the game since their 79-run loss in the first match and the slide has been difficult to arrest.
The Indians will be keen to win the last match of the series and save face as a whitewash will be really embarassing for the team which reached the semifinal of the World Cup earlier this year.
But they have to plug all the loopholes to get the better of a spirited Bangladesh. The top-order’s form has been patchy while the team has suffered from lack of partnerships in the middle-order.
The bowling has been far from convincing with the likes of Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma leaking way too many runs on slow Bangladesh pitches. Even spinners Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja have failed to make an impact.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, have been brilliant on all counts and the results are a fair indication of their rise in world cricket.
After demolishing Pakistan in the recent three-match series, the Mashrafe Mortaza-led side is looking to do the same to big brothers India.
If the batsmen have shown the will to win by putting up runs on board — the hosts posted 307 in the first ODI — then the bowling department has found a new hero in Mustafizur Rahman.
The young left-arm pacer has not only created history by picking two five wicket hauls in as many matches but has also dented the confidence of the Indian batsman.
Going into the final match, the numbers may still favour the Men in Blue but on form the hosts remain clear favourites to sweep the series.
Mortaza though insisted that the team is not putting unneccessary pressure on itself to go for a series sweep.
“There is no pressure, nobody told us ahead of the match that we will win this series 2-0. India also said that we have nothing to lose so now we will just come on the field and enjoy. If we do that the result will be there. But we are not worried or thinking about a whitewash. We are just hoping to do our best,” he said.
The all-rounder though does not want to stay complacent and has warned the team of any slackness going into the final ODI.
“Look, consistency was our biggest problem. At the moment things are going well for us and I hope it will continue. In cricket, momentum is very important. Hopefully the boys will keep it up.
“There were a lot of challenges in the last 15 years but keeping this form is going to be a greater challenge for us. I think it’s a good pressure. When you win everything comes out well. Hopefully the boys will now deliver regularly,” Mortaza said after the team’s historic series win against India on Sunday.