Asia Cup final: Bragging rights not the only prize for India, Bangladesh

  • Kushal Phatarpekar, Hindustan Times, Mirpur
  • Updated: Mar 05, 2016 14:22 IST
Indian pacer Ashish Nehra reacts after the dismissal of Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Mithun during a Twenty20 cricket match at The Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka. (AFP Photo)

Last time India were in Bangladesh, they were shocked 2-1 in a bilateral series that led to hysteria here and widespread criticism back home. For cricket fans in Bangladesh, the win was akin to exacting revenge for India’s quarterfinal win in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, which many here believe could have gone in their favour if not for an alleged umpiring error.

Ad wars added to the fire. A local mobile service provider runs an advertisement here that mocks India for not acknowledging Bangladesh’s superiority on the field. The Bangladeshi side though has come a long way since the World Cup. In the past year they have won series against Pakistan, India and South Africa. In the Asia Cup Twenty20 they have once again upset the apple cart by beating heavyweights Sri Lanka and Pakistan to reach the final.

However, the one team they have not been able to beat in the tournament is India, their opponents in Sunday’s title clash at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Mirpur. Although Bangladesh’s bowlers had shown glimpses of magic that left the Indian batsmen rattled initially in the league game, the Men in Blue inflicted a convincing win over the hosts.

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India’s biggest strength has been their batting that has held its own on wickets that have tilted heavily in favour of the bowlers. The likes of Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have led the batting line-up with mature knocks. In the bowling department, senior pro Ashish Nehra has combine well with youngsters Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya to deliver the breakthroughs.

However, they will be wary of a Bangladesh side who have been on a roll since the opening tie.

Despite the hiccup against India, Bangladesh romped into the final, winning all three of their remaining league games. Led by Mashrafe Mortaza, the Tigers have been in ominous form. The exciting five-wicket win over Pakistan , that saw them through to the final, is sure to have given their confidence a great boost.

Lately the narrative before each India-Bangladesh game has followed a similar pattern – that of an evolving rivalry. A win on Sunday, will give both sides a chance to earn a ton of bragging rights before their next clash. More importantly, it would give them a chance to be called the best in Asia.

However with the World T20 just days away, a win here could prove something much valuable. It might just be the catalyst that could propel either side to go all the way in the upcoming marquee event.

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