In an anti-climactic end for Bangladesh, India managed to eke out a win from a near-impossible situation with their lower-order batsmen holding strong under pressure. The Asia Cup final turned out to be one humdinger after Bangladesh worked over India’s top-order, which had scored the bulk of the runs in the tournament, to expose the middle. With 223 to chase down, India appeared to be losing track before Kedar Jadhav, struggling with a hamstring injury, calmly guided India over the line with support from Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav. Have a glance at our final report from the tournament.
With his team sorely needing some inspiration at the top of the order, the flamboyant Liton Das, who has made little impact in his ODI career to date, stepped up and gave the Tigers a massive boost with a brilliant hundred. The Bangladesh top three had averaged 9.8 in this Asia Cup before Friday, but with Liton on fire and Mehidy Hasan holding one end steady, the underdogs put on a century stand. Liton contributed to 54.5 percent of Bangladesh's total, a stat that shows how dominant he was in their performance with the bat in the final.
Mustafizur Rahman erred with his line at a crucial juncture against Bhuvneshwar Kumar late in the innings, but The Fizz had a pretty memorable day with the ball, dismissing MS Dhoni, and sending down a tight spell just when Bangladesh needed him to step up. He returned to bowl a brilliant penultimate over that accounted for a resilient Bhuvneshwar and leaked just three runs.
Perhaps the unsung hero of Bangladesh's nearly-there Asia Cup campaign, Rubel Hossain was at his best with the ball. The lanky seamer conceded just 14 in his quota of overs and picked up the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja, both coming in crunch situations. He leaked just 12 in his last three and nearly set the game up for Bangladesh.
The last-ditch resort in India's bowling attack, Jadhav is quickly turning into the much-sought-after partnership-breaker. Bowling with a low trajectory, Jadhav forced the promoted Bangladesh spinner, Mehidy Hasan, to go for an unattractive shot that didn't get enough on it to clear the fielder at cover point. Jadhav's low bounce and queer action accounted for another, this time the big one of Mushfiqur Rahim, who pulled a back of a length delivery to the deep fieldsman to depart for a single digit score. He later played a superb role with the bat, rallying together the tail-enders to win the game for India despite struggling with a hamstring injury that saw him walk off the field once.
With Bangladesh losing a few wickets after a good start, India needed the magic hands of Kuldeep Yadav to completely sink them. Known for his uncanny ability to break partnerships, the Chinaman spinner sent back Mahmudullah, a resilient force in Bangladesh's lower middle-order early on, and added the big wicket of Liton Das to peg the Tigers back further. He finished with figures of 3/45 in a spell that ensured Bangladesh weren't going to end with a flourish. He later had a bigger task to do with the bat and came off as a hero in the final over for India.
Mortaza came into the attack in the eighth over and immediately sent back Ambati Rayudu to dent India's chase further. Having lost Shikhar Dhawan early, Rohit Sharma was looking for some much needed support from Rayudu but the Chennai Super Kings opener edged Mortaza behind off a delivery that shaped away after pitching. His captaincy and bowling changes were impressive and forced India to switch plans quite often.
With Dhawan and Rayudu failing early, pressure was on skipper Rohit Sharma to anchor the run-chase. He seemed pretty calm despite the occasion and kept scoring at decent pace in the company of Dinesh Karthik. Having raced to 29 in 23 balls, Rohit slowed down after the wicket of Rayudu and looked to guide the run chase. Just as he started maturing into the role, Rohit was flummoxed on the pull by Rubel Hossain.
After being called into the squad controversially, Soumya was dismissed for a duck against Pakistan and was pushed down the order in the finals to accommodate Imrul Kayes at the top. Sarkar found himself doing a repair job from No 7 as Bangladesh moved from 120/1 to 151/5. He kept the scoreboard ticking, hid his flashy self within and played a mature knock of 33 in 45 balls before being the second last batsman to be dismissed.
Chahal was brought on as early as the sixth over with India panicking at the lack of wickets up front. The leg-spinner was taken to the cleaners by Liton in his second over that leaked two sixes. He, however, returned strong and bowled with much better control in his remaining overs. Chahal sent back Kayes to grab his only wicket in the innings and finished with 1/31 in eight overs, flattering figures after his second over added 16 to the total.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have gone wicketless with the ball, but he had one eventful night courtesy a terrific performance with the bat under pressure. With India staring at the possibility of a defeat when he walked in, Bhuvneshwar took the mantle from Jadeja and oversaw the run-chase nearly till the end with awe-inspiring calmness.
Promoted to open the batting in order to bring some stability to a faltering top order, Mehidy Hasan fulfilled his role to perfection. The off-spinning all-rounder showed impeccable calm and resolve and helped a fired-up Liton Das play his natural game. While 32 off 59 might look pretty odd for an opener, Mehidy's knock was critical in Bangladesh's top-order delivering. He, however, went astray with the ball.
Nazmul Islam was welcomed with a thumping six by Rohit Sharma and Dhawan carried on the momentum with a boundary off his third ball. But the left-arm spinner had the last laugh as Dhawan mistimed his flighted shot to mid-off. He bowled much better since then, tying down the Indian batsmen with his loopy trajectory and stringent lines.
On a sluggish wicket, Dinesh Karthik dragged himself to 37 in 61 balls with just two boundaries — both of them off pretty loose balls — to his name. The No 4 batsman appeared bogged down in the absence of a reliable partner and struggled to keep the scoreboard ticking. Things would have turned better for Karthik had he finished off the run-chase, but instead he threw it away against Mahmudullah.
Bumrah didn't have the most promising of starts as he went for 17 in his first two overs and was taken off the attack. He returned from the other end, but the runs still kept flowing which forced Rohit to look at other options. Bumrah, though, returned to bowl brilliantly in the death, conceding 10 in his last 4.3 overs. The brilliant death overs enabled India to restrict the Tigers to a par total on a tricky wicket.
The left-arm spinner who managed a Man of the Match-winning performance against Bangladesh in the previous encounter between the sides, was milked for runs in his six-over spell. Jadeja did not find the right length for this track and his deliveries proved to be easy pickings for the Bangladeshi batsmen. With that, Jadeja let go of a chance to impress the selectors one final time with the ball at the end of the tournament. He later played a crucial role in the run-chase, combining with Bhuvneshwar in a telling partnership that played its part in India's win.
If Karthik was circumspect and slow, Dhoni was a tortoise who failed to break his shackles and let India’s required run rate drift. The wicketkeeper-batsman seemed under pressure after Karthik's dismissal and the fact that Jadhav was struggling with an injury further seemed to exacerbate his woes. With India banking on him to finish the innings, Dhoni edged one behind to leave India in trouble.
Even if he failed to contribute with the bat at a crucial juncture, Mahmudullah, who has been used pretty wisely by Mortaza, managed to make an impact with the ball. He proved to be a partnership-breaker for Bangladesh as he sent back Karthik with one that dipped drastically. His first four overs cost just 22 and made up for Mehidy's no-show with the ball. But Mahmudullah had a bigger role to play in the match as he was asked to bowl the final over and nearly defended the six needed.
Cutting loose early on, the opening batsman, coming off the back of a ton against Pakistan, failed to time Nazmul Islam's flighted delivery well enough. Dhawan seemed to be forcing himself into gear five from the word go and it ultimately proved to be his downfall early in the innings.
Walking in with one of the openers dismissed early, Rayudu had to get in and give Rohit some much needed support. Rayudu had opened the innings just two games ago, but couldn't get going from No 3 as Mashrafe Mortaza produced some late movement to find the edge of Rayudu's bat. With places for the World Cup up for grabs, Rayudu would have hoped to make better use of a golden chance.
Bangladesh needed some much needed experience at the top after a solid foundation laid by Liton and Hasan. This could have prompted them to use Kayes in a familiar role in the top 3 but the move came apart quickly as he failed to read Chahal. After a couple of mistimed shots, he played down the wrong line against the spinner and was trapped in front.
With another middle-order collapse looming, Mushfiqur Rahim had to sustain the direction given by Liton to the Bangladesh innings. He seemed over-eager to exert himself and a mistimed, hurried pull off Jadhav carried straight to the deep fielder. Rahim had a huge role in Bangladesh's surge to the final, but left them hobbling at a time they most needed him to step up.
Mithun, who had twice lifted Bangladesh from shambles in the company of Rahim, was a tad unlucky to be at the receiving end of a brilliant piece of fielding from Jadeja and some lousy running by Liton. As the opener stood ball watching, Mithun was caught in no man's land post Jadeja's stunning effort.
Rating chart: 10-9: Excellent, 8-7: Good, 6-5: Average, 4-3: Poor, 2-1: Very poor
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