Asia Cup final: Bangladesh stand firm in title fight

Published: March 22, 2012
Bangladeshi cricket captain Mushfiqur Rahim (R) jogs with teammates during a team training session. PHOTO: AFP

Bangladeshi cricket captain Mushfiqur Rahim (R) jogs with teammates during a team training session. PHOTO: AFP

Bangladeshi cricket captain Mushfiqur Rahim (R) jogs with teammates during a team training session. PHOTO: AFP Misbahul Haq will be keen to silence his doubters and provide Dav Whatmore with the perfect start to his reign as Pakistan’s coach with a routine win over Bangladesh in the final. PHOTO: AFP

History beckons Bangladesh as they aim to rise above the minnows’ tag and notch up their biggest title since arriving on the international scene when they take on Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup today.

With former champions India and Sri Lanka thrown out of the competition, it is  a most surprising summit line-up for the event which is struggling for relevance in a crowded international calendar. Defending champions India paid the price for a stunning loss to Bangladesh in the league stage while four-time winners Sri Lanka failed to register a single triumph
this time.

The debacles of two teams, who have dominated the tournament since its inception way back in 1984, paved way for an unlikely finalist in Bangladesh, a side which is known to upstage big guns but not for going the whole hog. The giant-killers thrashed India, chasing down 290, but that was seen merely as one of many rare stunners that Bangladesh are so well known to throw up in multi-national events.

A ‘great achievement’, says Tamim

However, the determined side proved critics wrong by beating an already demoralised Sri Lanka as well, a result that knocked India out of the final.

“It’s a great achievement for the country, the biggest so far,” said opener Tamim Iqbal, hero of the win over Sri Lanka with a half century. “We realise it’s still not over, we have another very important game. We’ll enjoy, we’ll party, but we’ll be back to business for the final.”

But Pakistan would look to play the party poopers. Misbahul Haq’s men have not won the title since 2000, which was held in Bangladesh. Pakistan were given a mighty scare in the league encounter that they played against the hosts but ares till overwhelming favourites to win the title for only the second time. They certainly have the arsenal to complete the job.

Their batting looks solid with in-form openers Mohammed Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed providing fine starts in the league stage. Younus Khan and Umar Akmal have made decent contributions in the middle order. Overall, Pakistan have the line-up to post a huge total
on board.

Pakistan’s bowling remains wayward

What probably might be slightly worrying is the way their bowlers have leaked runs. Pace spearhead Umar Gul has picked up wickets but it is the flow of runs that he has to check. Aijaz Cheema was ineffective, at least against India, who managed to chase down a huge target of 330 due to the pedestrian effort of the Pakistani bowlers.

Pakistan’s fielding too needs to improve. The reflexes haven’t been sharp enough and it could cost them dearly if Bangladesh manage to continue their superb run.

Confidence is key: Shakib

But former Bangladesh captain Shakibal Hasan thinks the hosts have the confidence to go all the way.

“I think when we talk in the dressing room it’s like, 100 runs in 20 overs is no problem,” said Shakib who was instrumental in the win against Sri Lanka that sealed Bangladesh’s spot in the final. “This is the sort of confidence that we have now. If a player goes down the pitch and thinks he’ll get stumped, he will. If he thinks he will hit a six, he’ll be successful most of the times.”

Pakistan start as favourites but given the high Bangladesh is on, it could well be the night of the underdogs.

Tamim Iqbal

“We’ll enjoy, we’ll party, but we’ll be back to business for the final. It’s a great achievement for the country, the biggest so far. We realise it’s still not over, we have another very important game.”

  Misbahul Haq

“Most of our batsmen struggled during the England series, so I think their performance in the Asia Cup is really a confidence-builder for us, we needed that very much.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • Oops!
    Mar 22, 2012 - 12:25AM

    Misbah’s the Man -You Rock! Wondering why ET forget to mention his name among batsmen performing in this tournament. – Only player who have yet to make a contribution is over-rated Shahid Afridi! Recommend

  • zK
    Mar 22, 2012 - 12:53AM

    Bangladeshi’s should win this insha Allah.
    As for Misbah …if he has any shame left in him ( any i really doubt that!) after the extreme humiliation he has caused the nation after the match against India he should resign and leave cricket for good !


  • Cynical
    Mar 22, 2012 - 5:08AM

    After the loss against Hindus nothing matters.
    Let Bangladesh win the cup.Being a small and poor country they need it more than we do.
    It might also help them to forget some of the bitterness from 1971.


  • ZP
    Mar 22, 2012 - 9:25AM

    Your comments above are ridiculous.


  • Syed Owais
    Mar 22, 2012 - 9:53AM

    Who do I wish good luck to?
    PCB or BCP?

    I think I will opt for PCB as they will benefit at the end when Bangladesh visit Pakistan on an Bilateral visit, after winning Asia Cup!

    Any comments from anyone :)


  • Maher
    Mar 22, 2012 - 10:25AM

    As a Pakistani we always cheer for Pakistan’s win. But this time Bangladesh really deserves this. Pakistan’s performance was not upto Par and Misbah’s captaincy was Pathetic…


  • Chill
    Mar 22, 2012 - 10:26AM

    We are playing with a defensive captain with Test Match mind set. We need aggressive skipper like Shahid Afridi or Younus Khan for one days.


  • Qasim
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:12AM

    Don’t you feel ashamed with such comments? It reflects your assumed name but do you really have to show your true colors to the entire world. Shame on you…….. Let it remain a game of cricket and not religious war.


  • Rehman
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:27AM

    Mr Me (Afridi) fans are trying very hard to insult Misbah. Mr Me fans care to tell us what is his recent performance? He is nearly averaging 60s with ball and dont ask about his batting. He brain farts every time! And What he did against India? 9 runs of some 12/13 balls? Even Younis Khan was scoring runs at 150+SR. Wake up Mr Me fans! Mr Me cost us the match against India. Mr Me who only performs against MINNOWS


  • Simon Khan
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:29AM

    Bangladesh should win and Pakistan should be happy if they do, as it will greatly help Bangladesh bring Intentional game to Pakistan.

    Either way Indians have lost in Muslim hands.

    Bangladesh Zindabaad

    Pakistan Zindabaad

    All Muslim Final


  • Pakistani Agnostic
    Mar 22, 2012 - 11:53AM

    I really want Bangladesh to win! They deserve the victory.
    Although, i would still be more happier if Pakistan wins it.


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