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Asia Cup Final: India looks to remain king of Asia
28 September 2018

A victory for India in the Asia Cup without Virat Kohli will be a big statement going into next year’s World Cup.

The broadcaster is disappointed, the fans from across the world are dejected. After all, the Asia Cup final will not be a much-anticipated face-off between India and Pakistan.

Instead, it will be the other Men in Green, who deservedly booked a place in the summit clash by ousting Pakistan.

Depth in squad

Bangladesh entered the Asia Cup as one of the most improved sub-continental outfits in the recent past. That it has entered the final despite losing senior opener Tamim Iqbal in the first match and key all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan ahead of the must-win game against Pakistan is a testimony to the depth in its squad.

Besides, when the Tigers defended eight runs off the last over versus dark horse Afghanistan, it showed that Bangladesh had finally started maturing on the big stage.

 

The Asia Cup trophy on display.

The Asia Cup trophy on display.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Still, Mashrafe Mortaza's boys know that Friday's finale will offer them an opportunity to break the big-match jinx against ‘Big Brother’ India.

In the last three years, whenever India and Bangladesh have square off in coloured clothing, Bangladesh has wilted under pressure.

It started off with the 2015 World Cup quarterfinal when Rohit Sharma — after a controversial decision went in his favour — took the game away from Bangladesh.

Next year saw two instances — the World T20 Super Eights when Mushfiqur Rahim celebrated two runs too early to see his team lose the plot in Bengaluru and the Asia Cup T20 final when in a rain-hit match, India cruised to a nine-wicket win in Mirpur.

Then came the semifinal of the Champions Trophy last year when Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli made a meat of a target of 265, helping India win by nine wickets with almost 10 overs to spare.

Mashrafe's mavericks will realise that the task will be tougher despite India missing Kohli for the tournament. In the regular captain's absence, Rohit and his deputy Shikhar Dhawan have clobbered the opposition so much that India's middle-order has hardly got any time at the crease throughout the tournament.

Mushfiqur’s form

While hoping to get an early breakthrough, Bangladesh will also be hoping that its trump card Mushfiqur continues to lead the batting charge. Thanks to his career best in the tournament opener against Sri Lanka and 99 against Pakistan on Wednesday, Mushfiqur separates Dhawan and Rohit at the top of the run-getters' chart of the tournament.

India, on the other hand, will hope to get back to its best after having to be content with a tie against Afghanistan. No doubt India had made five changes to give its bench a go, still the team sans the in-form openers appeared shaky in a chase of 253.

The good thing from India's perspective is in a tournament where games come thick and fast, every team is bound to have one bad game. And India may feel the Afghanistan tie would have taken care of the law of averages.

The teams (from):

India: Rohit Sharma (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan (Vice-Capt.), K.L. Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, M.S. Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar and Siddharth Kaul.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (Capt.), Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque.

Umpires: Marais Erasmus and Ruchira Palligurya; TV Umpire: Rod Tucker; Match referee: David Boon.

 

 

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