DHAKA: India beat Bangladesh by eight wickets to win the Asia Cup Twenty20 cricket title in a rain-affected match in Dhaka on Sunday.
Shikhar Dhawan was the top scorer with 60 off 44 balls as India reached 122-2 in 13.5 overs after restricting Bangladesh to 120-5. Mahmudullah Riyad struck an unbeaten 33 off 13 balls to set up Bangladesh’s total.
Dhawan and Viral Kohli added 94 for the second wicket before MS Dhoni, who walked in to bat with India needing 22 off 14 balls polished off the chase with an unbeaten six-ball 20 as India won with seven balls to spare.
That Bangladesh got into a position from where they could entertain hopes of a win was largely due to Mahmudullah’s late blitz after a sluggish start. He started with a straight drill off Ashish Nehra before going inside out against Hardik Pandya to start the 14th over that was taken for 21. Jasprit Bumrah’s superb last over, off which he conceded just seven, helped India pull it back. Yet, the star of the first half was R Ashwin, who gave away very little in a 15-over bash that was tailor-made for batsmen to tee off.
The match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka had been reduced to 15-over-a-side affair after rain coupled with gusty winds delayed the start for two hours.
Thousands of fans who spent hours in queues to collect tickets for the match were drenched or forced to take shelter under the galleries due to the unexpected downpour. A 20-minute power failure, which followed the rain, only made the matters worse.
India opted to bowl after winning the toss against hosts Bangladesh, who were hoping to cause a major upset in the final by spoiling title favourites India’s preparations for the World Twenty20, which starts next week.
The match had no reserve day, meaning the trophy would have been shared if there was no play.
Top-ranked India had earlier crushed Mashrafe Mortaza’s side by 45 runs in the opening match of the tournament, but the hosts have since executed a turnaround, winning three matches on the trot to qualify for the final.
India have now been crowned Asian champions for six times. Asia Cup takes place every two years but the earlier tournaments were all held in the 50-over one-day international format.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2016.