It seemed like a thrilling Asia Cup Super Four fixture between India v Afghanistan happening all over again. Albeit, this time, it felt as though the Indian’s luck would run out. They almost lost the plot, with some sloppy fielding display and a capitulating batting order. In the end, it was the fighting (and a limping) Kedar Jadhav that just about took India past the finish line.
First Innings: Liton’s miDas touch
The Tigers were short of personnel coming into the match, having lost Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal to finger injuries. Bangladesh needed some inspiration and it came from the most unexpected quarters – their 23-year-old opener Liton Das.
India’s bowler, while on one hand were steadily gathering wickets, but on the other, they failed to contain Das. At times he played some exquisite drives over covers, at others, he hooked the ball with relative ease. The pace duo of Bumrah and Bhuvaneshwar, and even the spinners Chahal and Jadeja struggled against him. Matters were made worse by poor fielding when Chahal dropped a seemingly easy catch at mid-wicket off Jadeja’s over.
India dearly paid for this mistake, as Das then went on to post 121 runs on the score sheet. It perfectly demonstrates why they say ‘catches win matches’.
However, Das was fighting a lone battle, as he received support from the team’s other batsmen. In-form batsman Mushfiqur Rahim got caught cheaply.
Eventually, the first innings ended at 222/8.
Second Innings: Another match, another last ball finish.
India’s own batsmen felt out of sorts, with Shikhar Dhawan and Rayudu returning to the pavilion before the end of the powerplay. Rohit Sharma too followed them soon, scoring 48 runs.
The onus now rested on India’s middle order, with Dhoni and Karthik on the crease. For a partnership that had been mostly untested for the entire tournament, both of them showed patience. They posted an invaluable 54 runs, before getting out themselves.
At 160-5, India was in problem. Their problems were exacerbated when Kedar Jadhav picked a strain in the hamstring.
After a lot of huff and puff, India needed 11 runs off 16 balls. Jadhav returned to the crease and ensured India clinched the trophy late in the night.
As a result of an injured Kedar Jadhav on end and an inexperienced Kuldeep Yadav at the other, the score went on to 6 off 6 balls. This sure was a thriller in making. Kedar had to find the boundary, as a single would mean Yadav coming on strike and a limping agony for him. Even though their batting was below par, Bangladesh bowlers had really bought the game back to life.
After 5 balls of high tension, and invaluable 5 runs later, both the sides were tied with Kedar on strike. Could the Maharashtrian batsmen lift India to the title? Or could the Mahmadulla take inspiration from Afghanistan and condemn India to another tie?
To his credit, Mahmudullah balled beautifully and not letting Kedar willow touch the ball. Unfortunately, the ball kissed Kedar’s pad, and that lethal touch was enough for the Men in Blue to win a record 7th Asia Cup title.