India on Saturday defeated Bangladesh by three wickets in a nail-biting last ball encounter to bag the Asia Cup title at the Dubai International Stadium. After being asked to bat first by India, Bangladesh could only manage to post 222 at the scoreboard thanks to opener Liton Das' thunderous 121 runs from just 117 balls.
However, no other player in the Bangladesh side could manage to play long inning - Mehidy Hasan Miraz (32) and Soumya Sarkar (33) - as most of them fall flat in front of the power-packed Indian bowling lineup. Spinner Kuldeep Yadav led the Indian bowling lineup with three wickets for just 45 runs.
He was provided strong support by Kedar Jadhav (2/41), Yuzvendra Chahal (1/31) and Jasprit Bumrah (1/39). Bangladesh started off strongly in the game as openers Liton Das and Mehidy Hasan Miraz posted a 100-plus partnership. However, soon after the first wicket at the score of 120, the Bangladesh side couldn't hold on to the situation and got all out at the score of 222. With both Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan in supreme form, India was hopeful of achieving the target and winning the tournament easily.
However, unlike earlier games in the tournament, India didn't get off to a flying start this time as Dhawan (15) got out at the score of 35. He was followed by Ambati Rayudu, who only managed to add two runs before falling off to Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza at the score of 46. India's stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma (48), MS Dhoni (36) and Dinesh Karthik (37) later took India close to the target, however, none of them could manage to stay for a longer time.
After Kedar Jadhav got retired hurt at the score of 5/167, it was a small yet highly needful partnership between Ravindra Jadeja (23) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (21) that brought momentum towards the Indian side. But, soon after the two got out, Jadhav was forced to make a comeback in the game and guide India to victory with the help of tail-ender Kuldeep Yadav. With six runs needed from the last six deliveries, Bangladesh chose off-spinner Mahmudullah to bowl the last over. However, Jadhav and Yadav didn't lose concentration and guided India to a three-wicket win against Bangladesh with easy singles.
"I was in this situation before. I knew it was easy to score singles when the field was up. I am still a batsman who can bowl," Jadhav said after the win. However, it was a "bit difficult to adjust the length and speed" for Kuldeep Yadav towards the end. Talking about the victory, India's head coach Ravi Shastri said: "Everyone knows how well we played in England. This is a different format. I liked the intensity. People thought guys will be reasonably flat after spending such a long time in England. But the boys pulled their socks up. The ability to keep taking wickets was a positive sign. The biggest plus is our fielding. We have fielded well.
Rohit always looks in control. He has a calming influence in the middle. His bowling changes were very good today." Expressing happiness over the feat, BCCI acting President, CK Khanna said, "It's a great feeling. Team India has done really well and has become the only team to win this title for the seventh time. It is a prelude to the next year's World Cup. Not only have me but the entire nation wished Indian team all the best now and always."
Hailing the Indian bowling lineup, Rohit Sharma said, "Our spinners consistently bowled really well, throughout the tournament. Even today, they brought us back in the game. Their performance has been consistent in last 6-8 months, which is a positive sign. Even for fast bowlers, it wasn't easy to pick wickets." He added, "As far as batting is concerned, our middle order didn't get enough chance to bat because top order batsmen batted more in tournament. But whenever they got a chance, they showed signs of handling pressure really well. Overall, our performance has been really dominating."
Meanwhile, Mashrafe Mortaza, Bangladesh Captain said that their players performed well but still they have to learn many things. "We had a good start, we could've scored 280 easily. With a little more effort, it could've been more than 300, but we couldn't do it. We can't blame the bowlers.
For a batting order like India,223...they could've easily chased it. Boys should feel proud but we've to learn many things. Today we had a good start but couldn't go through," he said in post-match press conference. "But I think bowlers have done really good job in this tournament, every time batsmen scored more than 240 we won the match," he added.