Chattogram: After starting their tour of Bangladesh with defeat in a One Day International series, India’s stand-in captain KL Rahul said they will come out swinging in the opening Test match against the hosts beginning in Chattogram on Wednesday.
Rahul is leading the team in the opener of the two-match series with regular captain Rohit Sharma ruled out with a finger injury. India hope to have him back for the second Test in Mirpur from December 22.
India, the world’s second-ranked Test team behind Australia, are eager to make up for their 2-1 ODI series loss, the team’s first series defeat by Bangladesh in seven years in any format.
“We won’t go in with any set mindset… we are going to go there and try to be aggressive and get a result,” Rahul told reporters on Monday.
“The game is played over five days so it’s important to break it down into smaller targets and try and achieve that. One thing is sure that you are going to see a lot of aggressive cricket from our side.”
Rahul expects talisman Virat Kohli to be in high spirits after the former captain smashed a century in their win in the third ODI.
“He has been in good form, he has done really well for us in T20 cricket and recently got a hundred against Bangladesh in the ODIs. So obviously he will take some confidence in the Test match as well,” Rahul added.
Umesh Yadav to spearhead
India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey on Tuesday termed Umesh Yadav as the fast-bowling spearhead for the visitors’ at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Wednesday.
In a series where pitches are expected to be spin-friendly, there will be huge focus India’s fast-bowling unit missing first-choice fast-bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami due to injuries.
The absence of Bumrah and Shami gives Umesh a chance to have an uninterrupted run in a Test series, which has been a little difficult for him ever since Mohammed Siraj emerged as a strong third pacer.
“Umesh is a very experienced bowler and what he brings to the table. Unfortunately, the way things have been, he hasn’t got enough opportunities. Looking at the team balance, someone like Bumrah, Shami, Siraj came in and team management has spoken to him on why certain decisions were taken. In that sense, we are very clear with Umesh as far as clarity is concerned.”
“If I look it from other way, Umesh becomes a spearhead for us right now. He has a lot of experience with him going into the Test match and series. Also happy with the way Siraj has progressed and delivered in Test cricket. He has won Test matches for us and in other venues as well.”
Pant in full throttle
India also have Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini and Jaydev Unadkat as other options in the fast-bowling department to explore and Mhambrey was pleased that all bowlers had some game time in hand, be it be at international or domestic level.
Ahead of the first Test, a video of Rishabh Pant going full throttle in practice session went viral and asked about the same, Mhambrey said the team think-tank will never ask him to curb his natural attacking style and that he’s aware about his role and expectations from him by the side.
“That’s the way Rishabh bats in the nets. It’s kind of preparation for the way he plays. I don’t think there’s any other special discussion with Rishabh that we are having and saying that, ‘this is way we want you to play’. That’s his game. We know what we expect out of Rishabh and nothing changes with the way he plays.”
“That’s the way he prepares for any format, be it be white-ball or Test cricket. He is pretty much aware of what his role in the team is. Our conversations are never around the way we want him to play. He knows how important is role in the team going to be and what the team expects out of him. That’s the way he goes and prepares.
Bangladesh seamer Taskin Ahmed said the team’s bowling unit will have to raise their game to take wickets on the flat track at Chattogram.
“Fast bowlers ideally want to bowl on green tops,” said the 27-year-old, who may miss the first Test due to his workload. “Conditions are not in our hands. We have got slow and flat tracks in South Africa and New Zealand.
“We have to make ourselves so skilful that we can bowl well on all types of wickets.
“Great bowlers are also getting five-fors on flat tracks. We have to focus on our self-improvement rather than (look at) conditions.” Bangladesh have never beaten India in a test match.