Bangladesh will play mighty India in the final of the 14th Asia Cup at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.
The six-nation tournament final will begin at 5:30pm [Bangladesh time] with Bangladesh taking on defending champions India for the second consecutive Asia Cup final.
Bangladesh registered three wins against two losses for their final berth while the six-time champions of the continental tournament Indians maintained unbeaten record throughout the contest before final of this edition.
Bangladesh will play the game to utilise their third consecutive chance to have the maiden title of the tournament after missing out the title twice recently — once in the 50-over Asia Cup in 2012 and the Twenty20 version in 2016, losing to Pakistan and India by two runs and eight wickets respectively.
The Tigers are a determined bunch of having a habit of toppling big teams. Indians look too strong on paper, but this could become a super contest if Bangladesh can raise their game.
Indians were pushed to a tie by Afghanistan in their last Super Four game when they had rested several key players for the dead rubber – they should be better equipped to counter such a challenge should Bangladesh present them with one.
Bangladesh started their campaign with a137-run win against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener before upset by 136-runs against Afghanistan in their Group ‘B’ last match.
The Tigers’ made a frustrating start in the Super-Four stage with conceding a seven-wicket loss against India, but got the track eliminating Afghanistan by three runs in a last ball thriller before the 37-run victory against Pakistan in a virtual semifinal on September 26.
In their Group ‘A’ matches India defeated Hong Kong and Pakistan by 26 runs and by eight wickets respectively. They beat Bangladesh by seven wickets in the Super- Four stage before crushed Pakistan by nine wickets.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza-led Tigers’ are dealing with injury issues as Mushfiqur Rahim, the highest run scorer for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup 2018, is playing in the meet though have rib injury.
Experienced all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan aggravated an injury to his left little finger hours before the knockout clash against Pakistan and was ruled out of that game as well as the final.
Tamim Iqbal, the Tigers’ prolific opener, sustained a fracture in his left wrist in the team’s first game against Sri Lanka and was ruled out of the rest of the games.
Bangladesh tried different combinations at Tamim’s place at the top with Liton Kumar Das, Nazmul Hossain and Soumya Sarkar, but none of them clicked properly.
Bangladesh openers have managed 5, 16, 15, 15 and 1 for the first wicket from their last match to opener respectively, clearly, this has been a big problem. With India’s potent pace attack against them, it’s a concern for Mashrafe’s men.
Despite Bangladesh’s two most experienced men are out of the tournament, the Tigers made the final berth as batting machine Mushfiqur Rahim the third major wheel carried the most parts.
The wicket-keeper batsman Mushfiq has 297 runs at 74.35 with one century of 144 against Sri Lanka, and his 99 against Pakistan on Wednesday acted as a catalyst in Bangladesh’s victory after they were 12/3 in the fifth over.
Mohammad Mithun hit two 60 and 63 and joined Mushfiq in big partnerships on two occasions – for 144 off 29.2 overs in 4th wicket against Pakistan and 131 off 23.3 overs in the 3rd wicket against Sri Lanka – but, it hasn’t been too consistent.
Mahmudullah Riyad averaged 30.40 with the bat and has conceded runs at less than four per over while Imrul Kayes scored a half-century in his first game against Afghanistan after being flown in from Dhaka the back-up act was good.
On the bowling front, Mustafizur Rahman is the second-highest wicket-taker with eight wickets at 18.37 and has been their main weapon with the new ball as well as at the death overs. He has Rubel Hossain, captain Mashraf and spinner Mehidy Hasan Miraz for company.
Indians have the most potent opening combination among all the teams in the competition — Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are among the top three scorers — and have picked up wickets with the new ball in all but one game, which has proved out to be a key factor on the slow Dubai pitches that make run-scoring difficult for new batsmen.
Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey and Ravindra Jadeja – have done decently, the ability to absorb pressure on a tough chase.
As far as bowling is concerned, India are settled with all of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav and Jadeja among the wickets
Bangladesh squad: Mashrafe Bin Mortaza (captain), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mosaddek Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam Apu, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar and Imrul Kayes.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Khaleel Ahmed, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Manish Pandey, Lokesh Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar and Siddarth Kaul.unb