India clinched the Asia Cup trophy for a record sixth time after beating hosts Bangladesh by eight wickets, riding on Shikhar Dhawan’s scintillating 44- ball-60 in a rain-truncated final, here tonight. While Sri Lanka have won the continental title five times and Pakistan twice, India s title triumph makes them the ahead of their continental neighbours.
Chasing a target of 121 in a match reduced to 15-overs-a -side, Dhawan came good when it mattered the most as he hit nine fours and a six adding 94 runs with Virat Kohli (41 not out) with India winning with seven balls to spare.
As India lifted the Asia Cup trophy without losing a single match in the tournament, skipper MS Dhoni said they were well on track for the World Twenty20, beginning in two days time.
In the last two overs, India required 19 runs. If the partisan 25,000 supporters harboured any hopes of a comeback, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (20 not out in 6 balls) dashed them with a lethal six over deep mid-wicket off Al-Amin and another terrific blow over deep extra cover before finishing the match with another six.
There were no celebrations from the Indian team as the crowd were left spellbound in disbelief.
Al Amin struck in the second over when a delivery moved a shade as Rohit tried to slash it. Soumya Sarkar at first slip made no mistake.
As his skipper wanted from his openers in the earlier matches, Dhawan initially tried to play himself in with India reaching 19 in the first four overs. Things changed from the fifth over, bowled by left-arrm seamer Abu Hider, playing his first match of the tournament.
With Mushfiqur Rahim standing up due to his lack of pace and short third-man stationed, Dhawan played late to collect two boundaries while Kohli was lucky when his lofted drive went beyond mid-off s reach as he was standing up. In all, 14 runs came off that over.
With Powerplay overs ending, Mashrafe Mortaza got Shakib Al Hasan into action and the Dhawan-Kohli duo took 15 runs off that over. Kohli pulled one while Dhawan played a late cut and an imperious pull-shot as India were well on course in their pursuit of the total.
The stand-out shot for Dhawan was a slog-sweep off Mortaza that was hit into the deep square leg stand. After 10 overs, India were 71 for 1 and the match virtually ended in Shakib s next over when Dhawan hit a conventional and a reverse sweep to dash Bangladesh s hopes.
Dhawan’s 50 came off 35 balls. He was finally out caught at point by a diving Soumya Sarkar off Taskin Ahmed.
Dhoni said during post match presentation of Asia Cup Trophy :
Thanks to the top-order batsmen, they have been doing really well. In the last few games that we have played, the top-order batsmen have done most of the job. They gave us a good platform once again. I think it is important for us to get a settled combination and that’s what we have got right from the Australian series. We are on track for the World T20. The beauty about (Jasprit) Bumrah is that he has the yorkers. He has a slightly different action as well. Hardik (Pandya) can bowl a few overs for us and he can bat and field as well, it’s a great package. Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) is someone who loves to bat at No. 4, but looking at this team it’s really difficult to give him that slot but he’s really adjusted batting at No.5. Not just the top eleven, the rest of the guys in this side are match-winners as well. The good thing is they shoulder responsibility and never leave it to someone.
Man-of-the-match Shikhar Dhawan, who struck 60, said it was a “special” knock for him.
“It’s special. The best thing is that we won. As a team we have worked hard. We are peaking at the right time. We were talking while chasing runs. We were comfortable during the chase, never felt the pressure. We were under control,” Dhawan said.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said his team has been doing well and they go into the World T20 with lot of confidence.
“It’s upsetting that we couldn’t win the final but congratulations to the boys for making it this far. They played really well, we have exciting batsmen and bowlers, hopefully this team will carry on from here. We have a lot of confidence, we have to qualify for the WT20 first, we have a flight early in the morning,” he said.
Virat Kohli said it was a tricky situation out there.
It was a tricky situation with Rohit getting out early. Me and Shikhar had to string a partnership. Credit goes to Shikhar for the way he batted. Big game player and delivering when the team needed the most. Struck it beautifully and that 94-run stand was the gamechanger. I’m still very young, not even 28. I try to stick to my basics, keep my head still and back my strengths so the risk becomes less. Don’t try to hit sixes. Was pretty electrifying in the stadium. Always big support for Bangladesh. Credit to them to make it into their fortress. I like the crowd being against me, pumps me up. More they boo me, more it motivates me.
India’s Team Director Ravi Shastri said he motivated the team to get revenge for their ODI series defeat here.
I just told them today that it is the final. Just remember the celebrations that Bangladesh had when they beat us in the ODI series, so just go out there and get the bloody job done (smiles). This is a damn good all-round side. If we get off to a good start, we can chase down any score. If there is anything that we need to improve, it is the bowling department. I was not surprised one bit to see them chase this down easily. When you have a team like this, it makes it so exciting.
Man-of-the-series was Bangladesh’s Sabbir Rahman.
Playing Eleven (XI) of Final match of Asia Cup:
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah
Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah Riyad, Nasir Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abu Hider, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed