In a match going down the wire, Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar’s sensible knock helped India pip Bangladesh by three wickets in a thrilling Asia Cup final at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium here on Saturday.
The win also shattered Bangladesh’s dream of their maiden Asia Cup title while the Rohit Sharma-led Indian side clinched the prestigious title for a record seven times.
Chasing a modest 223-run target, India lost wickets at regular intervals to make the contest unpredictable, thanks to a disciplined Bangladesh bowling attack.
However, in a match going down the wire, Jadeja (23) and Bhuvneshwar’s (21) rose up to the occassion and their knock came at at a time when their team needed the most.
Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started the proceedings well as India raced away to 35 runs in 4.3 overs however, the joy was shortlived as left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam came with the first breakthrought for Bangladesh.
Dhawan (15), while trying to go over Nazmul’s head, gave an easy catch to Soumya Sarkar at mid-off.
With just the addition of another 11 runs, India received another blow as incoming batsman Ambati Rayudu (2) fell cheaply off a Mashrafe Mortaza ball, leaving India at 46/2.
Rohit and Dinesh Karthik then tried to put things in control as they took their side near the three-digit mark. But, just when the Indian skipper was two runs away from his half-century, Rubel Hossain handed another jolt to the opponents, dismissing a good-looking Rohit to leave the men in blue reeling at 83/3.
Karthik was then joined by M.S. Dhoni and they gave some respite to India, adding a crucial 55 run for the fourth wicket.
Just when the partnership seemed developing, off-spinner Mahmudullah struck to add another twist in the tale, packing back Karthik (37) as India’s scorecard read 137/4.
As India managed to add 27 runs to reach a total of 160 with incoming batsman Kedar Jadhav and Dhoni oncrease, Mustafizur Rahman put India in deep trouble, sending back the latter on 36 runs.
Dhoni’s thick edge of the bat landed in the gloves of Mushfiqur Rahim in the 37th over before Jadhav left the field after being retired hurt with India still 56 runs away from victory.
Jadeja and part-time batsman Bhuvaneshwar’s sensible knock then not only gave India a hope but also inched their side on the doors of victory.
The duo were involved in a 45-run partnership as India crossed the 200-run mark. However, with India just 11 runs away from their seventh Asia Cup title, Jadeja (23) became a victim of Hossain in the 48th over.
His fall saw Jadhav once again joining the pitch but very soon, the issue once again turned in Bangladesh’s way as Bhuveneshwar, while trying to drive a delivery by Mustafizur Rahman, was caught brilliantly by stumper Rahim, who dived his right to take an excellent catch.
Denying the opponents any further onslaught, Jadhav (23) and Kedar (5) guided India home in a match which went to the final ball.
For Bangladesh, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain picked two wickets each while Nazmul, Mortaza and Mahmudullah bagged one wicket apiece.
Earlier, opener Liton Das’ brilliant century had helped Bangladesh post 222.
Bangladesh got off to a flying start but lack of support from the middle and lower order batsmen and some brilliant fielding from Indian players saw Bangladesh only managing to score a modest total.
Das played 117 balls and slammed 121 runs which include 12 boundaries and two sixes and built a perfect platform for a big score but some poor shot selection from other batsmen cost the Bangladesh camp.
Put in to bat, Das and Mehidy Hasan (32) played handsomely and forged a brilliant 120-run partnership before Hasan was dismissed by Jadhav. The two played sensibly and often thrashed Indian bowlers all around the park.
Unperturbed by the fall of Hasan’s wicket, Das kept on playing his natural game but middle-order batsmen Imrul Kayes (2), Mushfiqur Rahim (5), Mohammad Mithun (2) and Mahmudullah (4) failed drastically.
All of them gifted away their wickets, thanks to careless shot selection.
With five batsman back to the pavilion at 151, Das, along with Sarkar (33), tried to reconstruct the innings but was dismissed in the process. Wicketkeeper Dhoni stumped Das off Kuldeep in the 40th over.
Mortaza (7) fell prey Kuldeep after playing nine balls.
Sarkar kept playing at the other end but was run out in the penultimate over while trying to increase the run rate. His 45-ball knock was laced with one boundary and one six.
In the very next ball, Jasprit Bumrah clean bowled Hossain (0) to wrap up the innings in style.
For India, Kuldeep scalped three wickets while Jadhav took two wickets.
Brief scores: India 223/7 in 50 overs (Rohit Sharma 48, Dinesh Karthik 37; Rubel Hossain 2/26) beat Bangladesh 222 all out (Liton Das 121; Kuldeep Yadav 3/45) by three wickets.