India aim for 7th Asia Cup

They did it in 2012. They did it in 2016 and now in 2018, the Bangladeshi team find themselves again in the final of the Asia Cup against Rohit Sharma’s India.

Bangladesh minus Tamim and Shakib did a splendid job to overcome Pakistan thanks to Rahim with the bat and Mustafizur Rahman with the ball.

India on the other end were held for a tie by Afghanistan in their last Super Four match but their big guns were all resting.

When Rohit, Dhawan, Kumar, Bumrah and Chahal return, it will be a different ball game Before these two teams collide, in what has been coined as the new age rivalry, we take a close look at what the team combinations could be like.

From the Indian dressing room:

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have a had superb Asia Cup so far, scoring majority of the Indian runs. KL Rahul and Manish Pandey will again return to the bench. Rahul, who top-scored with 60 against the Afghans, has been assigned a clear role by the team management – that of a backup opener.

Ambati Rayudu has been a safe bet at number three, scoring runs for the Indian team. With 163 runs under his kitty, Rayudu will be hoping to get that big score in the final against Bangladesh.

India have persisted with Dinesh Karthik in the middle order. Karthik has shown the ability to accelerate as well as rotate the strike, so he might bat at number four ahead of MS Dhoni.

Dhoni, in particular, has not got enough opportunities to bat in the Asia Cup. He was unlucky against Afghanistan but the former Indian skipper will want his bat to do the talking if he gets a chance in the big final.

Kedar Jadhav at number six and Ravindra Jadeja at number seven show how deep India can bat. Kedar can chip in with his handy off-breaks and Jadeja has been a boon to the side with his slow-left arm spin.

India’s wrist-spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will have a big role to play in the middle overs. Both have accounted for 12 wickets between them but more importantly, they keep the runs in check.

India will be heavily relying on Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar to deliver the goods up front and in the death. Both have bowled terrific lines and have consistently picked up wickets to keep the opposition under pressure.

From the Bangladeshi dressing room:

Bangladesh have held their nerves in tight situations to earn a place in the Asia Cup final. If Tamim Iqbal’s injury was a setback, Bangladesh have also lost their premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan to a fractured thumb.

Mashrafe Mortaza’s team has a very potent pace attack which took a beating against India in the Super Four encounter but with Mustafizur back at his best, Bangladesh will feel confident.

Rubel Hossain and skipper Mortaza can be destructive on their own days, but, however, both of them haven’t looked lethal so far. What will hurt them the most is the absence of Shakib in the spin department. They will be pleased with the way Mehidy Hasan Miraz has stepped up and will be banking on him to contain the Indian middle order.

He could well be seen as a ploy with the new ball to disturb the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan at the top. Apart from their regulars, Mahmudullah and Soumya Sarkar can also contribute with the ball.

As far as their batting is concerned, Bangladesh will be praying for one of either Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar or even Mominul Haque to bat through and get a big score. In Shakib’s absence, Mushfiqur has done a tremendous job to shoulder the middle order along with some fine support from the very brave Mithun.

Mahumudullah is an asset in the lower order and like India, even Bangladesh can bat deep. Mehidy is a very capable batsman while skipper Mortaza is an able hitter of the ball.

Overall, considering the form that they are in, India look certain favourites to defend their Asia Cup title but one can expect Bangladesh to give them a run for their money.

Support for both the teams will be strong when they collide in the summit clash of the 2018 Asia Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday.