Rohit Sharma seemed to have no quiet moments in Rajkot. During the Bangladesh innings, when India was again sloppy in the field, he cut an animated figure out in the middle, his irritation plain for all to see.
Later, he appeared to take all that annoyance out on Bangladesh, his brutal, unfiltered aggression with the bat a joy to behold. “I wanted to go for six in a row,” he later revealed of his assault on Mossadek Hossain, having clubbed the off-spinner’s first three balls of the evening for six.
Mahmudullah admitted there was little his bowlers could have done to stop Rohit. It was an innings that killed off the second T20I as a contest, delivering India an emphatic win.
What the nature of that victory means is that India will go into the series-deciding third T20I at the VCA Stadium here on Sunday firmly believing it has the upper hand. The momentum has decisively shifted.
As big as Rohit made the gulf between the sides seem on Thursday, India will be aware that it is far from perfect as a team. Khaleel Ahmed has been expensive in both games, and Rohit will have to decide how confident his left-arm seamer is and if he may be trusted to deliver under pressure. Bangladesh will doubtless attack him.
The absence of Jasprit Bumrah makes any Indian side vulnerable at the death. The key to restricting Bangladesh in this situation lies in taking wickets in the middle overs.
Does India have reliable wicket-taking options beyond Yuzvendra Chahal?
Does Rohit feel he can manage four quiet overs between Krunal Pandya and Shivam Dube? These questions remain but this series is an opportunity to look for answers.
The Indian team that will take the field in the opening game of the T20 World Cup next year will most certainly look different — Bumrah, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya will come straight in. The T20 Internationals India plays in the lead-up are thus chances for the likes of K.L. Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube and Deepak Chahar to make an impression.
Rahul started well in Delhi but could not carry on. Shreyas has looked good in both matches, although he fell trying, unselfishly, to raise the tempo in the first T20I.
Good news for batsmen?
Washington Sundar pointed out on Thursday that Bangladesh had perhaps felt more comfortable on a slow surface in Delhi than on a good batting track in Rajkot. He expected another batting-friendly surface at the VCA Stadium, confident it would work in India’s favour.
The touring side had the chance to win the series in Rajkot — a result that would have meant a great deal to Bangladesh cricket after the turbulent events of the previous month — but failed.
India perhaps does not see this T20I series as an end in itself, but it will not concede a single inch.
The teams (from):
India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Khaleel Ahmed, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Rahul Chahar, Shikhar Dhawan, Shivam Dube, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey, Krunal Pandya, Rishabh Pant, K.L. Rahul, Sanju Samson, Washington Sundar and Shardul Thakur.
Bangladesh: Mahmudullah (Capt.), Liton Das, Abu Hider, Afif Hossain, Mosaddek Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain, Aminul Islam, Shafiul Islam, Taijul Islam, Mohammad Mithun, Mohammad Naim, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mustafizur Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and Arafat Sunny.