Favorites India aim another Asia Cup title in final


A powerful Indian team will hope there are no hiccups when they face Bangladesh in the final of the Asia Cup in Dubai on Friday.

India has been the team to beat in the Asia Cup, thrashing arch-rivals Pakistan twice and Bangladesh before they rested their five key players to finish on the same scores against a spirited Afghanistan.

Bangladesh have also rode their luck, beating Afghanistan by three runs in a last-ball finish to their Super Four game before ending hopes of an Indo-Pak final.

They will again be without their key all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan who returned home after fracturing finger in his bowling hand.

In-form India opener Shikhar Dhawan is confident his team will carry the form in their quest to win the seventh Asai Cup title.

“Of course we’ll carry momentum as all the teams are competitive and everyone thought it was India-Pakistan in the final, but Bangladesh won a great match last night, ” said Dhawan who has starred with two-hundreds in the tournament.

Dhawan added that they are not taking Bangladesh lightly as they will be highly spirited after winning their last game convincingly.

“We can’t take them lightly as they are playing better cricket, there’s a difference between the team on paper and who is doing good on the field, that’s how I see,” Dhawan said.

Not only their batting but India’s bowling has also performed well in the tournament. They beat Bangladesh in the first Super Four game by seven wickets, also in Dubai.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja grabbed four wickets while pacemen Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshawar Kumar took three wickets apiece to bundle Bangladesh out for a paltry 173.

Sharma with 83 not out anchored India’s easy win, but Mashrafe hoped it could change.

Dhawan expects bowlers to take wickets.

“We’d like to get wickets from much before Kuldeep-Chahal come in, spinners are skilful,” he said.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza hoped his players fight till the last ball to win a maiden Asia Cup title.

Bangladesh upset Pakistan by 37 runs in the last Super Four match in Abu Dhabi to book their only second Asia Cup final against six times champions.

Without their established opener Tamim Iqbal who got his wrist fractured after the first game and world-class allrounder Shakib Al Hasan ruled out due to the fractured finger, the Tigers will hope younger players fight for an inspiration win.

“It will be tough without Tamim and Shakib,” said Mortaza on Thursday.

“The good thing is that boys have fought very hard so I hope they fight till the last ball and give us a win which will inspire the whole nation,” he added.

With their powerful batting line up led by skipper Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, India start as favourite. They thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan in the two matches to get closer to another title.

Sharma has notched a hundred and two half-centuries while Dhawan has two
hundreds in the tournament, a fact Mashrafe feels make them favourites.

“India is a strong team and it will not be an easy task for us to beat them,” he said.

Bangladesh have beaten India in only five of 34 one-day internationals but one of them came in 2012 Asia Cup on their way to the final when they lost to Pakistan by two runs at home.

“It’s just a match if you have a great day anything can happen. The boys are in good shape so it could be our day,” said Mashrafe.

Bangladesh will look to their former captain Mushfiqur Rahim to lift their batting as he did in the first game win against Sri Lanka with 144 and against Pakistan with 99.

Their left-arm paceman Mustafizur Rahman is in good wicket-taking form, taking 4-43 against Pakistan.