Virat Kohli (left) and Rubel Hossain © Getty Images
Virat Kohli (left) and Rubel Hossain © Getty Images

India will play Bangladesh for a solitary Test before playing three One-Day Internationals (ODIs). There will be many mini battles and Nikhil Popat picks out five deciding ones.

Virat Kohli vs Rubel Hossain

There has been some needle between Virat Kohli and Rubel Hossain brewing since their Under-19 World Cup days when both had an heated exchange during the match and the umpires had to intervene. The same continued in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and in the following ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 as well.

In 2011 World Cup, opening encounter between India and Bangladesh, there was a moment when Kohli angrily pointed Rubel to go back to his bowling crease. Kohli hit a fine century then, four years later though, Rubel had the better of Kohli and gave him a royal sendoff, to which Kohli did not revert when the former was out as India won the quarter-final tie in 2015. Rubel may have his old memories rekindled if they come face to face. Read: Rubel Hossain eyes India series as return to Bangladesh squad

Kohli, the Indian Test captain now, has been known for his aggressive approach and he showed it on India’s tour of Australia where he hit four tons in as many games. Bangladesh will want Rubel to get his act together since they know if Kohli gets going, they might be chasing leather very early in the series. 

Harbhajan Singh vs Mominul Haque

Harbhajan Singh is making a comeback to the national team after a long time and will be itching to perform and prove to everyone that he still has it in him to take wickets and perform on the big stage. Harbhajan has been picked due to presence of left-handers and his battle will be to get rid of the in-form Mominul HaqueRead:Harbhajan Singh attracts eyeballs as India begin practice for Bangladesh tour in Kolkata

Mominul has had a terrific start to his Test career; he has a Test average of 60 in 14 Tests with four tons and nine fifties. He had a decent outing against Pakistan recently where he scored a couple of fifties in as many Tests, but he will know he can do much better and Bangladesh will wish for Mominul to perform against an opponent they are yet to defeat in Tests.

Ravichandran Ashwin vs Mushfiqur Rahim

There were doubts over the fitness of  Mushfiqur Rahim, but he has been cleared to play and might play as a proper batsman and as a result uncapped player Litton Das could be handed the responsibility of keeping wickets. His and Bangladesh’s rise do not coincide as Rahim has had decent success against India in Limited overs. Read:Mushfiqur Rahim unlikely to keep wickets for India Test

India though will know of the danger and Ravichandran Ashwin, who has thankfully gone back to being a proper off-spinner will want to perform and get rid of Rahim before the Bangladesh skipper threatens to take the game away from India. Ashwin has often being criticised for not doing well away from home, which he will want to desperately change and reap rewards for his hard work.

Ajinkya Rahane vs Shakib-Al-Hasan

Ajinkya Rahane has now become a lynchpin of India’s Test batting line-up and a lot will be expected off him after having a good run in Australia where India lost 0-2. He  has however showed great determination, skill and continued his good run in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015, where he was the second highest run-scorer. He will want to start his season on a good note. Read: Virat Kohli: India hold no grudge against Bangladesh

Shakib-Al-Hasan, on the other hand, has had a relatively quieter time with both bat and ball. His contribution to Bangladesh team is immense and coming against a powerful Indian batting line-up in sub-continental conditions, Bangladesh will need Shakib to perform and get through the star batsmen in Indian line-up.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar vs Tamim Iqbal

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has grown leaps and bounds as a bowler in recent times to become the leader of the Indian bowling attack. He got tired through the Australian tour and was rested enough during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 but played the IPL 2015 for his team Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and was one of the key players for them. He will be relatively fresh from the break and hungry for success. India will want him to strike early and provide them with breakthroughs at the top. Read:Mashrafe Mortaza: We want to play an international series in India

Tamim Iqbal had a dream run against Pakistan against whom he scored his maiden Test double in the first Test at Khulna. He has had good success against India in the past but in the 50-over format and will be eager to continue his good form against them in Tests. He will get to face the threat of Bhuvneshwar at the top and whoever wins the battle might set the tone for the rest of the game.

(Nikhil Popat is a diehard cricket enthusiast and a PotterHead till the end of time. He can be followed on Twitter @CricCrazyNIKS)