India held out during a thrilling run chase against Bangladesh to clinch the Asia Cup final by three wickets.
Sent into bat by India, Bangladesh’s openers were on a hiding to nothing. Liton Das had scored just 225 runs in 17 ODIs (ave 14.06) and Mehidy Hasan Miraz only 169 runs in his 16 previous ODIs (ave 18.77).
Against the odds, the pair batted superbly, putting on 120 runs for the first wicket before Miraz was caught off for 32 (59 balls, three fours). Bangladesh lost four quick wickets before Das was the sixth wicket to fall, stumped by MS Dhoni off Kuldeep Yadav at the end of the 41st over with the score on 188.
Das had scored a brilliant 121 (more than half his career ODI runs tally) off 117 balls, including 12 fours and two sices (S/R 103.41).
The only other batsman to reach double figures was Soumya Sarkar, who scored 33 off 45 balls before being one of three Bangladesh batsmen run out in the innings as Bangladesh were bowled out for 222 off 48.3 overs.
Kuldeep Yadav (3-45, econ 4.50) and KM Jadhav (2-41, econ 4.55) snared the bulk of the wickets, while Yuzvendra Chahal was the most economical (1-31, econ 3.87) with his legbreak googlies.
Chasing their third-lowest target in the competition, India started well with captain Rohit Sharma scoring 48 off 55 balls (three fours, three sixes).
Dinesh Karthik (37 off 61 balls) and MS Dhoni (36 off 67 balls) kept the board rolling, but a string of wickets left India on 167-5 at the end of the 38th over, although effectively the score was 167-6after Kedar Jadhav was forced to retire hurt on 19 off 20 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar added 45 for the sixth wicket before Jadeja fell for 23 off 33 balls, reducing India to 212-6. Jadhav bravely returned to the crease, but two balls later Kumar fell to Mustafizur Rahman for 21 off 31 balls, leaving India needing nine runs to win off 11 balls with just three wickets in hand.
Mustafizur Rahman bowled three dot balls and conceded just three runs off the 49th over, leaving Indian needing six runs from the last six balls.
Mahmudullah took the last over, conceding two singles and a two off the first three balls, followed by a dot ball to leave India needing two runs from two balls for victory. A single followed and then, with one needed from the last ball, Mahmudullah stooped to tie his shoelaces in an attempt to add to the batsmen’s nerves.
The last ball of the match saw Jadhav swing to leg and the ball flick his pad and run down to short fine leg for a leg bye to give India the winning run off the final ball of the innings.
India had successfully defended their Asia Cup title in claiming the narrowest of wins over Bangladesh, who enhanced their reputation dramatically after a number of terrific performances during the Asia Cup.
Despite losing the final, Bangladesh’s bowlers can take great pride from their performance, with Mustafizur Rahman taking 2-38 (econ 3.80), Rubel Hossain 2-26 (econ 2.60) and Mashrafe Mortaza 1-35 (econ 3.50) in the final. Opener Liton Das was deservedly named Player of the Match for his outstanding century.
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