Asia Cup 2018: Bangladesh hope to ride momentum, India look to continue clinical show in tournament final

India's tie against Afghanistan shows that Rohit Sharma's team can't afford to be complacent. Bangladesh, on the other hand, will hope to use the momentum to win the elusive Asia Cup trophy.

Sandipan Banerjee, Sep 28, 2018 10:43:19 IST

It has been an inspirational journey for the depleted Bangladesh team in this Asia Cup. Despite losing two key players — Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan — on their way, they haven't thrown in the towel. Instead, under the motivational leadership of Mashrafe Mortaza, the Tigers have battled all the odds to set up a date against defending champions India in the title clash. This will be Bangladesh's third attempt in four consecutive editions to win this Asian battle of supremacy for the first time but in order to achieve the glory, they have to go past Rohit Sharma's team, which has been clinical in their performances so far.

Friday's final is Bangladesh's third appearance in Asia Cup summit clash in last four years. File image/ AFP

Friday's final is Bangladesh's third appearance in Asia Cup summit clash in last four years. File image/ AFP

If Bangladesh want to run India close in this contest, they have to do particularly well in two aspects. First, their misfiring top three batsmen need to keep Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah at bay with the new balls. Secondly, their bowling has to get rid of India's in-form openers as early as possible in order to explore the vulnerable middle-order.

Without Shakib, the Bangladesh bowling lacks a fair bit of bite. In fact, against Pakistan, they were one bowler short as the think-tank decided to play an extra batsman. But part-timers like Mahmadullah and Soumya Sarkar did a commendable job to fill up the gap. However, against the Indian batting line-up, they will face a much stiffer challenge.

Nevertheless, Mortaza has led this bowling attack quite aptly, especially the way he has used his pacers like Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain, is absolutely praiseworthy. Mehidy Hasan, with his off-spin, has given them good starts and on Friday a lot will depend on how he bowls to the Indian openers, especially Shikhar Dhawan.

Their batting in this tournament has revolved around Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, and Mahmadullah. Also, Imrul Kayes, who has been experimented to bat in the middle-order, played a crucial innings against Afghanistan in the Super Four fixture. Meanwhile, in the final, they need contribution from the top order, such as Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, and Mominul Haque as well.

Having secured two hard-earned victories against Afghanistan and Pakistan back-to-back, Bangladesh have momentum with them. Now if they can lift their game a little and put up another spirited show, India won't have a cakewalk. Most importantly, Mortaza's boys should not get fazed by the occasion, as we had seen in the past.

In the last game, Rahim faced a few fitness concerns while keeping and Liton had to chip as a back-up keeper. But on Friday, the former skipper is expected to wear the keeping gloves as well.

India expect another all-round show

Following the tied match against Afghanistan, India are expected to get into their grooves quickly with their first-choice XI. The five players — Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal — who were rested in the last match, will come back for this final. The Afghanistan game has proved that any sort of complacency can be harmful. Hence, on Friday India are eyeing for yet another professional show.

Indian bowling has done an exceptional job in this Asia Cup. The bowlers have constantly kept chipping away with wickets to put pressure on opposition batting. And almost on every occasion, the opposition has crumbled under this pressure.

In the pace department, the Bhuveneshwar-Bumrah combination has always provided the early breakthroughs. In fact, the duo has provided a perfect foil to the spin department, which has been the backbone of this attack on these slow-low tracks in Dubai. Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Chahal, and the part-timer Kedar Jadhav have claimed 23 scalps at an average of 25.26 and an economy of 4.17 altogether in this competition. Hence, to put up any sort of resistance against them, Mushfiqur and Co will have to bat out of their skins.

Meanwhile, the Indian batting will once again depend heavily upon the opening pair, which has scored the bulk of the runs. Others, like Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik, too have made a few useful contributions. However, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja must remain vigilant if they are required for a bigger role in the final. But without a doubt, there is a bit of rustiness in this middle-order.

It will be a full house at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium for this final. Both teams should ideally look to chase here as the recent trend shows that the wicket gets quicker under lights.

The fans, organisers, broadcasters and most of the other stakeholders of this Asia Cup expected this game to be an India-Pakistan face-off. However, in the end, we have to say that the two best teams in the competition are featuring in this final and at present, Bangladesh are far a more equipped team than Pakistan to provide this strong Indian team a stiffer challenge in the final.

Updated Date: Sep 28, 2018 10:43:19 IST

Top Stories

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5007 116
2 South Africa 4280 110
3 New Zealand 3213 107
4 Australia 4566 104
5 England 5490 104
6 Sri Lanka 4256 89
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6918 126
2 India 8058 122
3 South Africa 5545 111
4 New Zealand 5645 111
5 Pakistan 4872 102
6 Australia 4290 100
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 5280 135
2 India 5590 124
3 South Africa 2960 118
4 England 2586 118
5 Australia 3266 117
6 New Zealand 3367 116