India have reasserted their continental supremacy by winning the highly prestigious Asia Cup trophy for the record seventh time.
It was an epic finale to a tournament which gave us many thrilling moments. The Men in Blue were given a target of 223 by the Bangla Tigers in 50 overs. They would surely be disappointed with this total as Liton Das smashed a superb century to take his team to a respectable total. No other player could support him in any form whatsoever, which restricted them to a modest total of 222.
When India came out to bat, everybody was relaxed because our openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, had the capability to finish the game on their own. 223 was not a big target of the. But Bangladesh was in the mood to give a tough fight. Dhawan and Rohit started their innings with a positive intent and struck 10 runs in the first over. Things were too easy for India and that is the moment when Bangladesh struck the much-needed breakthrough. Nazmul Islam picked up the important wicket of Shikhar Dhawan, who scored just 15 runs.
Ambati Rayudu, who came at number 3, could not do much for his team and went back to the pavilion by scoring just 2 runs. India were in a bit of trouble, they were 43 for 2 in 7.3 overs. Rohit and Dinesh Karthik stabled the Indian inning and kept the scoreboard ticking. The Indian skipper was moving towards another well-deserved half-century. But, it seems that luck was on the Bangladeshi side. Rubel Hossain bowled a short delivery and Rohit got out playing his favorite and perhaps go-to stroke - the pull. Rohit went out on the score of 48. India were 83-3.
The captain cool was at the crease now and the fans wanted something special from him. He did not disappoint. Dhoni and Karthik were building a good partnership when Karthik tried to flick a low full-toss and missed. The ball hit the tip of the boot and he was given leg-before on 37. Everyone felt that it was Dhoni’s night and he again would rise on the big occasion. But these hopes were dashed by none other than Mustafizur Rahman, who came back into the attack and picked up the wicket of Dhoni.
After 37 overs, India were 162 for 5. Ravindra Jadeja and Kedar Jadhav was at the crease. Jadhav was struggling out there and merely limping across to the other end. After playing 20 deliveries, skipper Rohit Sharma, coach Ravi Shastri and physio of the team told Jadhav to come back to the dressing room and let Bhuvneshwar Kumar come out to bat. Bhuvneshwar gave a solid support to Jadeja and both the players took the score over the 200-run mark. The defining moment was the six that Bhuvneshwar hit to Rubel Hossain over long-off. After 46 overs, India were 205 for the last of 5 wickets. They needed just 18 runs to win the match in 24 balls. But, the Mashrafe Mortaza-led had something else in mind. They wanted to tell the world that we are not ‘minnows’ and have the capability to beat the best team in the world.
Rubel and Mustafizur picked up Jadeja’s and Bhuvneshwar’s wicket in quick succession and made it worse for the Indian team out there. They needed 6 runs in the final 6 balls. Jadhav, who walked off the field had again came out to bat and took the charge.
Mahmudullah was bowling the last over. First ball to Kuldeep Yadav and he punched the ball away towards wide long-off for a single. Jadhav did the same on the next delivery and took a single. Third ball, Kuldeep took the risk and he slog-sweeps the ball towards the deep mid-wicket boundary and got 2 valuable runs. Two needed off three balls.
The fourth ball turned out to be a dot ball. 2 runs needed in final 2 deliveries. Kuldeep kept his cool and took a single on the next ball. The moment was here, the final ball of the Asia Cup and India needed only 1 run to clinch their seventh title. The last ball bowled by Mahmudullah was fired flat in flat towards leg-stump, Jadhav missed the ball, but it went off his pads towards the fine leg boundary and they stole a single to clinch Asia Cup.
It was a fitting end to this competition. India held their nerves and won the match. Whereas Bangladesh would be mighty pleased with their performance in the match as all the players gave their best to guide their team to the victory. But, it seems luck was not on their side.
Liton Das was named the ‘Man of the Match’ for his blistering inning of 121 runs while Shikhar Dhawan was given the ‘Man of the Series’ trophy for scoring most numbers of runs (342) in the tournament.
INDIA 223 (Rohit 48, Karthik 37; Rubel 2/26) beat BANGLADESH 222 (Liton Das 121, Sarkar 33; Kuldeep Yadav 3/45) by 3 wickets.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar