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India-Bangladesh test series: India look to stay at the top

The hosts start as favourites to pick up 120 points from the two games against Bangladesh; the first Test starts in Indore on Thursday. Kohli returns to lead the side that recently won their record 11th straight series at home. Rohit Sharma has be...

Nov 12, 2019, 11.45 PM IST
India team players during a practice session at Holkar stadium on Tuesday.
Virat Kohli's India will be aiming to strengthen their number one position in the world Test championship when they start a two-match series against Bangladesh in Indore on Thursday. India start as favourites to pick up 120 points from the two games against a Bangladesh side missing key players. The hosts have recorded two sweeps in the five-day format since the start of the Test championship in August, beating South Africa and the West Indies. New Zealand and Sri Lanka are second and third, already 180 points behind, though they have played only one series each. India go into the first match in Indore boosted by a 2-1 Twenty20 series win over Bangladesh.

Kohli, who opted out of the T20 matches, returns to lead the side that recently won their record 11th straight series at home. Rohit Sharma has been on hot form, hitting two centuries and a double ton in his debut series as opener against South Africa. The pace department also looks settled despite the absence of injured Jasprit Bumrah and played a key part in the three convincing Test wins over South Africa.

Bangladesh, under new captain Mominul Haque, had a troubled build-up to a series after star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan was banned for two years, with one year suspended, by the International Cricket Council. He admitted failing to declare illegal approaches by bookies and the ban ruled Shakib out of the tour and next year's World T20 in Australia.

Earlier a player revolt put the India tour in doubt before the national board gave in and increased match payments. The touring side is also missing prolific opener Tamim Iqbal, who took a break due to family reasons. Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad will lead the team's batting alongside Mominul who was not part of the T20 squad. The second match of the series will be the first daynight Test to be staged in India. Kolkata's Eden Gardens will host the spectacle.

Recovering from a hamstring injury and a side strain, pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar assessed himself for a comeback when he participated in a “skill session” during Indian team's practice ahead of the series-opener against Bangladesh. The Indian team management seem to have taken charge of Bhuvneshwar's final phase of rehabilitation.

Bhuvneshwar's injury has been a concern for the Indian team since he came back from the West Indies after the limited overs series. He followed a rehabilitation programme at the National Cricket Academy. “Bhuvi is here for a skill session with the team. The team management just wants him to get into the groove,” a team source told PTI when enquired about the pacer's presence at the net session.

He had a catching session with fielding coach R Sridhar and then participated briefly in the net session. He bowled a few deliveries from full run-up but it was evident that he wasn't going full tilt. However, Bhuvneshwar's presence is a welcome news considering that the 29-year-old is still an important member as far as India's white ball cricket is concerned. With Khaleel Ahmed a work in progress and pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah's workload a priority for the team management, a fit-again Bhuvneshwar is a necessity in this set-up with his experience and variations in the shortest format.
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