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Brave Bangladesh fall just short
Bowlers bowled with their hearts out after Liton Das struck his maiden century but everything went in vain as Bangladesh lost to India by three wickets in the Asia Cup final in Dubai on Friday.
India had too little target to knock off which they did finally to lift their seventh Asia Cup title but not before Bangladesh scared them off with their spirited show.
Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar kept their composure under pressure to build up a 45-run partnership after five wickets fell for 160 runs as India limped to 223-7 to complete the nerve-wrecking win.
Bangladesh, who rode on Liton’s 121 off 117 balls for their 222, thought they had a chance once Mustafizur Rahman removed MS Dhoni for 36 runs and Kedar Jadhav hobbled off the field to expose India’s tail.
But Jadeja scored 23 off 33 balls and Bhuvenshwar added 21 off 31 balls to deny Bangladesh further success.
India needed six runs in the final over and with all regular bowlers completing their overs, Bangladesh opted for Mahmudullah, who nearly produced a miracle.
Mahmudullah gave away five runs in his first five balls but with the score tied Bangladesh still did not give up.
The last ball hit Kedar, who returned to the wicket after the fall of seventh wicket, on his pad, helping India get a leg-bye and complete the win.
The ball was going down the leg so Bangladesh could not ask for a leg-before, meaning finally they had to accept the defeat, which seemed to have never crossed their mind until the last ball.
Despite their below-par score, Bangladesh bowlers did not allow India to dominate them completely as they struck every time when a partnership seemed developing.
Nazmul Islam dismissed Shikhar Dhawan for 15 to end a 35-run opening stand and Mashrafee bin Murtaza soon took the wicket of Ambati Ryudu for two to even up the contest.
Rubel Hossain bowled extremely tight and was rewarded with the wicket of Rohit Sharma, who looked well set before perished for 48.
Both teams fancied their chances after Mahmudullah removed Dinesh Karthik (37) and Mustafiz scalped Dhoni, but India had the advantage of knowing their target, which was not very difficult by any standard.
Bangladesh had only themselves to blame for their third defeat in an Asia Cup final after they wasted a great start given by Liton and makeshift opener Mehedi Hasan.
The duo put 120 runs in their opening stand, leaving India regretting their decision to bowl after winning the toss.
But five wickets fell in a quick span of time after Kedar dismissed Mehedi for 32 off 59 runs to break the opening stand.
Imrul Kayes (2) was judged leg before soon, Mushfiqur Rahim (5) heaved a big shot to be caught at long on and a brilliant piece of fielding by Jadeja saw Mohammad Mithun run-out for two.
Mahmudullah (four) put himself under pressure by playing some dot balls before his attempt for a six off Kuldeep saw him getting caught at deep midwicket by Jasprit Bumrah as Bangladesh were reduced to 151-5 in 33rd over from 120-0 in 21st over.
Third umpire Rod Tucker put last nail in Bangladesh’s faltering innings when he gave a dubious decision against Liton, who was still at the crease and playing with some grace in his attempt to revive the innings.
In the 41st over of the innings, left-arm spinner Kudeep Yadav beat Liton with a googley and MS Dhoni was quick to break the stump, prompting the umpires to refer the matter to upstairs.
Replay remained inconclusive whether Liton managed to drag his feet back to the crease but Tucker declared him out giving the benefit of doubt to the bowler.
A dismayed Liton left the crease after hitting 12 fours and two sixes which also brought few records for him along the way.
The Tigers could still reach to a modest total after his dismissal thanks to 33 runs off Soumya Sarkar but it was never going to be enough against a quality team in a match like this.