Spirited Bangladesh target first Asia Cup title

Published : 12:06 am  September 28, 2018 | No comments so far |  | 


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Bangladesh players celebrate a dismissal 


By Champika Fernando reporting from Dubai 

An injury-hit but spirited Bangladesh Team will be hoping to be third time lucky when they take on title favourites India in the Asia Cup Cricket Tournament final in Dubai, UAE today despite missing two of their key players from the playing XI.

Both teams were in a similar situation two years back but on a different format (Twenty20) and India led by M. S. Dhoni got their hands on the coveted title. 

The Men in Blue had a mighty scare against Hong Kong in their tournament opener but since then they have grown in confidence as the tournament progressed beating Pakistan twice and Bangladesh once before a second string Indian Team had to settle for a tie against Afghanistan.

The result against Afghanistan was immaterial as India had already qualified for the finals. 

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma who are among the top-three run scorers in the tournament sat out from the Afghan clash along with Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvenshwar Kumar and all of them are expected to return to the playing XI as they look to annex the title for the seventh time.

India have been brilliant right through and their openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have scored plenty of runs. 

While Dhawan has scored 327 in four innings at an average of 81.75 the Indian Skipper has collected 269 at an average of 134.50 and will be looking to provide a similar platform to lay their hands on the title. 

The worry, however for the Indians will be the form of M. S. Dhoni. The former skipper has scored just 41 runs off three innings – an uncharacteristic of a man who has scored over 10,000 runs in limited over cricket. 

The bowling will be strengthened with the return of Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvenshwar Kumar who missed the dead rubber against Afghanistan. 

With come-back man Ravindra Jadeja leading from the front, India’s bowling is in safe hand.

Speaking at the pre-match media conference Indian Vice-Captain Dhwan complimented Bangladesh for the manner in which they have performed so far in the tournament and said they would not underestimate their opponent in the final.

“They’re a competitive side. Hats off to them, the way they played and won against Pakistan. When you play all-round cricket the results will follow. The plan we made against them in the previous game, we will try and stick to that. Conditions will remain the same, we’ll plan for individuals by looking at videos of their batsmen, revise and prepare accordingly,” Dhawan said. 

On the other hand Mashrafe Mortaza’s men have already suffered a hefty seven-wicket defeat at the hands of India in the tournament but the biggest worry going into today’s final is the absence of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib al Hasan.
Opening batsman Tamim suffered a wrist fracture in their opening game and returned home while a long term finger injury of Shakib has resurfaced which forced his exit from the tournament before the virtual semi-final clash against Pakistan.  

Untitled-6This means Mushfiqur Rahim who has been in terrific form with bat right through the series will have to shoulder the burden along with young batsman Mohammad Mithun. 

In fact, Mithun played a vital role in their wins against Sri Lanka and Pakistan sharing two century partnerships in both occasions with Rahim after their chips were down early on.

The right-handed Rahim, the second highest scorer of the tournament has scored 297 runs in four innings at an average of 74.25. 

Bangladesh will miss the left-arm spin of Shakib but the positive is that seamer Mustafizur Rahman is in great form. He was instrumental in Bangladesh restricting Pakistan for 202 in their must win game on Wednesday. 

Mahmudullah Riyadh and Mehidy Hasan have also being impressive so far in the tournament and will need to bowl to a tight line and length to stop the free-scoring Indian batsmen. 

The squads: 

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

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (Captain), Mohammad Mithun, Litton Kumar Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah Riyadh, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam Apu, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Abu Haider Rony.