India will be keen to extend their impressive run in a triangular series starting in Dhaka on Monday and boost their hopes of becoming the top-ranked side in One-day cricket.
They have won six of their last seven bilateral One-day series under Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and a title-triumph here against a new-look Sri Lanka and a resurgent Bangladesh will help them narrow the gap against leaders Australia.
Dhoni’s men are currently the top-ranked team in Test cricket and number two behind the Aussies in One-Day Internationals. And although they cannot overtake the Australians in this series, India are hoping to close in on their rivals.
The tournament opens with a day-night clash between Sri Lanka and the hosts. Each team will play four league matches before the top two qualify for the final on January 13.
India vice-captain Virender Sehwag said ahead of the series his team were focused on maintaining consistency.
“If we win the series, the rankings will look after themselves,” he said.
“We have been playing very tough and good cricket for the last two years. So, hopefully we will do well in 2010. It’s important for the team to play well consistently. We hope to do well and win the series here.”
India will be without batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar, who has been rested for the one-dayers, but they still have depth in batting to give a good account of themselves.
India, who beat Sri Lanka in both Test and One-day series at home recently, have explosive batsmen in Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni to dominate any attack.
Sehwag said Sri Lanka were a tough side to beat despite missing veterans Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahela Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya.
Opener Jayasuriya, the world’s second-highest scorer with 13,428 One-day runs, was dropped, while spinner Muralitharan and batsman Jayawardene have yet to recover from injuries picked up during the India tour.
“I think Sri Lanka still are a good side and Bangladesh can also beat any team. We are not taking them lightly,” said Sehwag.
Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons said his side could make it to the final despite missing skipper Mashrafe Mortaza and key seamer Nazmul Hossain due to injuries.
Top all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan will lead the team, while Shahadat Hossain replaces Nazmal.
“Sri Lanka have brought a team below their best. They have left a few top players behind. We’ll be competitive against them and can push them hard. Hopefully, we’ll beat them,” he said.
He added that Bangladesh were now a better batting side and would also be “competitive” against favourites India.
The series will be a real test for Bangladesh, who will be keen to build on their One-day successes last year.
Bangladesh clinched their One-day series against below-strength West Indies and Zimbabwe in 2009 under Shakib, who led the side in the absence of Mortaza.
The tri-series will be followed by two Tests between India and the hosts at Chittagong (January 17-21) and Dhaka (January 24-28).
Bangladesh: Shakib Al Hasan (capt) Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Ashraful, Tamim Iqbal, Roqibul Hassan, Mahmud Ullah Riyad, Naeem Islam, Abdur Razzak, Syed Rasel, Shahadat Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Imrul Kayes, Shahriar Nafees, Aftab Ahmed, Shafiul Islam.
Sri Lanka: Kumar Sangakkara (capt), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Thilan Samaraweera, Thilina Kandamby, Chamara Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thissara Perera, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Malinga Bandara, Suraj Randiv, Thilan Thushara, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welagedera.
India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (capt), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Sudeep Tyagi, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Amit Mishra.