India expects tough challenge from Bangladesh in ODI series

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Ahead of their three-game ODI series starting Sunday, Bangladesh interim captain Liton Das believes India won’t underestimate the hosts after an intense rivalry in recent years.

India captain Rohit Sharma agrees with him.

The first one-day international is in Mirpur with Liton leading Bangladesh in the absence of Tamim Iqbal, who is injured. Bangladesh won the last bilateral series 2-1 in 2015. Since then it has lost five straight ODIs to India, with the last match at the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

But that could be misleading. Bangladesh lost a close Twenty20 game to India in 2016, lost the Asia Cup final in 2018 despite a brilliant century by Liton and came close to winning when the two teams met in the T20 World Cup last month.

This time home conditions and the partisan crowd will be Bangladesh’s biggest strengths to snap the losing streak, Liton said.

“The two teams over the years played some competitive games and I think India won’t rate us an underdog,” Liton said. “When we play at home, our goal is always to win the series, so there is no exception in this series also. Obviously India is a better side and bolstered with so many world class players. But if we can come up with our best cricket, anything can happen.”

Sharma expects a tough challenge.

“I think it has been an exciting rivalry for all these years. You know the last seven, eight years, the Bangladesh cricket team has been a different team ... and we didn’t have easy wins against them,” Sharma said.

“Even in the T20 World Cup it was a close game... So we have to play our best cricket to win this. It is not going to be easy for us.”

India will be without pacer Mohammed Shami because of a shoulder injury. Umran Malik has replaced him for the ODI games.

Bangladesh won its first-ever ODI series on South African soil earlier this year though it lost a series in Zimbabwe. It will be without fast bowler Taskin Ahmed and Tamim against India.

Taskin, who played a key role against South Africa, was rested for the first ODI against India after complaining about back pain while Tamim was ruled out of the series with a groin injury.

“We’ll miss the service of both of the players because their experience and form mean a lot for us," Liton said. "However it’s an opportunity for other players to step in and show their potential.”

Bangladesh and India will also play two test matches, starting Dec. 14 at Chattogram.

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