Defending champions India shall lock horns against an upbeat Bangladesh in the second semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Thursday.
The match is scheduled to commence at 3:00 pm (IST). The winner of the semis goes onto play Pakistan in the finals on Sunday. Pakistan had beaten hosts England in the first semis on June 14.
Going by current form and the quality of players at its disposal, India would start as overwhelming favourites against their South Asian neighbours but one can't rule out Bangladesh who have a reputation of being giant killers at major ICC tournaments.
The 'Men in Blue' would not be one bit complacent as they are very well aware of what Bangladesh did to them in the 2007 ICC World Cup.
Here are five reasons why India go in as favorites against Bangladesh in the semifinal encounter
1. India's batting much more formidable than Bangladesh-
The Indian team certainly has one of the most formidable batting in the tournament. The Indian team's batting is enriched with experience and boasts of world class stroke-makers. The opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikar Dhawan have been in red hot form all through the tournament, giving the team the opening salvo upfront. The middle order spearheaded by the ever consistent Virat Kohli, talismanic Yuvraj Singh and dependable MS Dhoni have chipped in with valuable knocks right through the tournament. India has some belligerent hitters in Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni who can swing the momentum of the game in their team's favour. With the exception of Mahmadullah, Bangladesh dosent have finishers of such pedigree.
Although their opponents Bangladesh boasts of some quality batsman in Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rehman, Sakib Al Hassan and Shabbir Rehman, they haven't fired collectively as a batting unit. While opener Tamim Iqbal has produced two stellar knocks in the group games, the other top order batsmen have been a little out of sorts. So Men in Blue definitely have an edge over their counterparts as far as the batting goes.
2. India's Potent Pace Attack can wreck havoc against Bangladesh
The Indian pace attack hailed as one of the best in the tournament has come to the party picking up wickets at regular intervals for their team. Indian team's pace attack is well rounded with a good blend of swing and seam bowlers. While Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami can extract brisk pace and movement off the deck, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have troubled top class batsmen with their swing and bowling at the death. Hardik Pandya has complimented the pace attack brilliantly by bowling his medium pacers to great effect in the middle overs. Meanwhile Bangladesh too have quality in their pace attack with Mashrafe Murtaza, Mustafizur Rehman and Taskin Ahmed but they are not as formidable as the Indian pace unit.
3. India hold edge with better momentum courtesy impressive showing in Group matches
India made it to the semifinals on the back of two impressive wins against South Africa and arch rivals Pakistan in their group encounters. They started off their Champions Trophy campaign in style with a comprehensive win against arch rivals Pakistan. They were upset by a spirited Lankan side but came back strongly to inflict a crushing defeat on South Africa. So India would take a lot of confidence by topping their group and securing a well deserved semifinal spot.
Bangladesh had a much easier route to the semifinals as compared to India. Bangladesh were handed a big defeat by hosts England in the tournament opener. They made a resounding comeback to stun title contenders New Zealand to boost their chances of getting into the semi finals. The 'Bangla Tigers' were lucky to split points with Australia as rain played spoilsport when the Aussies seemed to be in a commanding position.
4. India's Big Match Experience leaps and bounds ahead of Bangladesh
India are leaps and bounds ahead of Bangladesh when it comes to playing at the big games or the knockouts of a mega ICC tournament. India has tasted success at major ICC events by winning the 2007 T20 World Cup, 2011 ICC World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy in the recent past. On the other hand, it will be the maiden semifinal appearance for Bangladesh at a major ICC event. So they would certainly be under more pressure than India to cope up with the dynamics of a big game.
5. India's stronglehold over Bangladesh in ODI cricket
India have locked horns with Bangladesh in 32 one day internationals over the course of history.India has been overwhelming against them their winning 26 out of the 32 encounters. Although Bangladesh defeated India in the 2007 ICC World Cup , India has never lost to Bangladesh in a major ICC tournament, winning all five encounters between the two teams.
So going by the reasons listed above, India definitely starts as the clear cut favourites to win the semifinal and book a place in the title clash against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 18.