• Thursday, Jan 23, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:52 pm

Tigers eye elusive Asia Cup title

  • Published at 11:00 pm September 27th, 2018
Bangladesh head coach Steve Rhodes makes a point during a training session in Dhaka in August Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

The team have worked hard and made many sacrifices to reach the final and at this point, the top-order in the shape of Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar has no option but to deliver

A confident Bangladesh side will look for a rare tournament final win when they take on India in the Asia Cup grand finale at Dubai International Cricket Stadium in the UAE Friday at 5:30pm. 

Bangladesh emerged as the second finalist of the six-nation tournament after defeating Pakistan in the do-or-die Super Four encounter by 37 runs at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi Wednesday. 

With the win, the Tigers confirmed their third appearance in an Asia Cup final in the last four editions. 

Bangladesh till date have played five multi-nation finals, but have never won one.

The Tigers’ journey has been spectacular to say the least. 

The side have been dealing with severe injury issues right from the start of the regional tournament. 

They first lost opener Tamim Iqbal in the tournament opener and just ahead of the crucial Pakistan game, had lost all-rounder Shakib al Hasan to a finger injury, who was later ruled out of the final as well. 

But these injury issues have not been able to put down the Tigers, who have put paid to the organisers’ dream of an India-Pakistan final.

Bangladesh’s top-order has struggled following the departure of Tamim to injury. 

In crucial moments, the Tigers saw the middle-order batsmen come to the rescue, with wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim leading the front with two crucial innings, against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener, and then against Pakistan in the unofficial semi-final. 

The team have worked hard and made many sacrifices to reach the final and at this point, the top-order in the shape of Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar has no option but to deliver. 

They are due some runs and not performing in the tournament-decider will be no less than a crime to the team.

There is almost zero concerns with the bowling attack, as far as performance in concerned, despite the imbalance caused by Shakib’s absence. 

Bangladesh ODI captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza has led the bowling attack with pride, with left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman as his sidekick. 

Youngster Mehedi Hasan Miraz has given them good starts too with the new ball, and performed brilliantly in the last game. 

In Shakib’s absence, the side are likely to bring in left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam Apu back to the starting XI, in place of left-handed batsman Mominul Haque, who had come out to bat at No 3 in the previous game.

Meanwhile, a full-strength India will generate confidence from being the superior side in the ranking, and not to forget statistics. 

Bangladesh have faced India twice in a tournament final, and lost on both occasions. The last time the two teams faced each other was during the Nidahas Trophy T20I in Colombo in March this year where India emerged as the champion, defeating Bangladesh by four wickets in a nail-biter.   

Batsmen Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma will be the cornerstone of India’s batting and wickets which Bangladesh will be eager to take early. 

Dhawan, with two centuries in the tournament, is at the top of the highest run-scorers’ table with 327 runs, while India captain Rohit is at No 3 with 269 runs, including a hundred and two half-centuries.  

India’s bowlers have been sharp throughout the regional competition, with right-arm pacer Jasprit Bumrah and left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja leading the chart. 

The duo have picked up seven wickets each, and India will look to them to deliver in the important final against an unpredictable Bangladesh batting order.