Millennium Post

An exciting finale for Asia Cup

Unstoppable so far with clinical performances, a formidable India will square off against a passionate and sprightly Bangladesh in their quest for continental supremacy in the final of the Asia Cup Twenty20 cricket tournament, here on Sunday.

On paper, India are overwhelming favourites as the ICC rankings (India’s 1st vs Bangladesh’s 10th) suggests. But it counts for little in the shortest format, wherein the complexion of the game can change in a matter of one over.

A master plot always has sub-plots and this final will be no different. There will be little testing battles, which promise to make it an intriguing summit clash.

Whether it is Tamim Iqbal’s flamboyance against Jasprit Bumrah’s surprise element or young Soumya Sarkar’s cavalier approach against Ashish Nehra’s years of experience, there are enough ingredients for a heady battle. Ravichandran Ashwin’s guile against Sabbir Rahaman’s conventional yet dangerously attacking batsmanship or Rohit Sharma’s artistry against Taskin Ahmed’s youthful exuberance can also be a spectator’s delight. The only missing link will be Mustafizur Rahman, out with a Grade I side strain.

India captain MS Dhoni will be looking at a bigger picture as the Asian title will mark the perfect preparation before the ICC World T20 at home.

His opposite number Mashrafe Mortaza is not at all looking that far ahead as an Asian title will mean a watershed moment for T20 cricket in the country and a solid boost before they face the Netherlands and Ireland in the qualifying round of the marquee event in picturesque Dharamsala.

With the most partisan 25,000 supporters creating an awful din, it will not be an easy job for Dhoni and his men when Mortaza’s boys try to put them under the pump in a floodlit Sher-e-Bangla stadium.

After giving the reserve bench an opportunity, India are expected to be bring back their usual playing XI. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are expected to open the innings. While Rohit has been the top-scorer among the Indians with 137 runs, Dhawan so far has looked shaky despite full backing from his captain.

Kohli, with two man of the match performances, will look to end the tournament on a high with another significant contribution.

Suresh Raina is expected to fare better if the pitch does not have a lot of bounce and carry while Yuvraj has got back into the groove with couple of good knocks against Sri Lanka and UAE. In case Bangladesh opts for a slower wicket, his left-arm spin will also come in handy.

Skipper Dhoni has given a good account of himself so far despite not being hundred per cent fit in first few matches but he will be tested if the top-order collapses and he is compelled to come by the 10th over.

Pandya has shown his big hitting prowess in the match against Bangladesh. Although he has got some success with ball having bagged seven wickets so far, he has not done well with willow after the game against hosts. Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Nehra will come back and take their places in the playing XI.

Bangladesh are also expected to retain the XI that beat Pakistan. In absence of Mustafizur, it is expected that the home team will go with two spinners. Arafat Sunny , who took two crucial wickets against Pakistan, is expected to keep his place in the side.

Teams: India: MS Dhoni (Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli. Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (Captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahaman, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib-Al Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyadh, Mohammed Mithun, Arafat Sunny, Taskin Ahmed, Al-Amin Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Abu Hider, Nurul Hasan, Imrul Kayes.Match starts 7pm (IST). 

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