Asia Cup final: Familiar foes gear up for big day

In the last three years, whenever India and Bangladesh have squared off against each other in coloured clothing, the latter limped under pressure.

Bangladesh entered the tournament as one of the improved sub-continental outfits in the recent past.   -  AP

 

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 its traditional arch-rival Pakistan. Instead, it will be the other Men in Green — who deservedly booked a place in the summit clash by ousting Pakistan in a virtual semifinal — who will hope to beat their big-match jinx against India come Friday.

Bangladesh entered the tournament as one of the 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 tie against Pakistan] in itself is a testimony to its squad depth. Besides, when the Tigers defended eight runs off the last over versus dark horse Afghanistan, it reflected that perhaps Bangladesh as a team have finally started maturing at the biggest stage.

In the last three years, whenever India and Bangladesh have squared off against each other in coloured clothing, the latter limped under pressure.

How Tigers faltered

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. The following year, in the Asia Cup T20 final, India cruised to a eight-wicket win in Mirpur. The World T20 Super Eight tie was a nail-biter; Bangladesh lost by a run off the last delivery. Then came the Champions Trophy semifinal when Rohit and Virat Kohli, with India chasing a target of 265, scripted a nine-wicket win with almost 10 overs to spare.

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In captain Kohli’s absence, Sharma 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.

While hoping to get an early breakthrough, Bangladesh will also be hoping that its trump card Mushfiqur Rahim continues to lead the batting charge. Thanks to his career best (144) in the opener against Sri Lanka and 99 against Pakistan on Wednesday, Rahim separates Dhawan and Sharma at the top of the run-getters' chart.

India will hope to get back to its best after the 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.

But in a tournament, every team is bound to have a bad day.

Squads

India: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, K.L. Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (w.k.), Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar, Siddharth Kaul

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

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