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, in Mirpur on Sunday.
While Sri Lanka have won the continental title five times and Pakistan twice, India’s title triumph makes them ahead of their continental neighbors.
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) and India winning with seven balls to spare.
In the last two overs, India required 19 runs. If the partisan 25,000 supporters harbored any hopes of a comeback, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (20 not out in 6 balls) dashed it 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
Earlier, Indian bowlers lost their way in the final overs after an impressive start as Bangladesh rode on Mahmudullah Riyadh’s fiery 13-ball 33 to post a competitive 120 for five after being put into bat.
The match was reduced to 15-over-per side after a spell of thundershowers resulted in a two-hour delay to the start of the proceedings.
The turning point was the 13th over by Nehra (1/33) and more importantly the 14th over bowled by Hardik Pandya (1/35).
14 came off Nehra’s over while Pandya was taken for 21 in the penultimate over with Mahmudullah hitting him for a boundary and two huge sixes.
Jasprit Bumrah (1/13) was exceptionally good while Ravichandran Ashwin (1/14) and Ravindra Jadeja (1/25) also bowled accurately. But Mahmudullah’s slam-bang approach fetched the hosts 42 runs in the last three overs.
In-form Sabbir Rahaman scored 32 off 29 balls but was more subdued than his usual self as wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end until Mahmudullah took the attack back to the opposition camp.
Nehra and Bumrah gave India vital breakthroughs in the five Powerplay overs, removing Soumya Sarkar (14) and Tamim Iqbal (13) respectively. After Powerplay, Bangladesh’s scorecard read 30 for two.
For Nehra, getting Soumya out was a sweet revenge after he went for three boundaries in the particular over. Tamim had first lofted him for a boundary over extra cover. Soumya clobbered him straight and also pulled him behind square.
However, the seasoned Nehra altered the length in his last delivery which climbed onto the left-handed Sarkar, who tried to play across the line. Hardik Pandya, standing at mid-off, ran a few steps to his left to take an easy catch.
The crowd was shocked in the next over when their big hope Tamim tried to play across the line and was caught plumb in front of the wickets.
Dhoni started the proceedings with Ashwin and brought him again after the end of Powerplay.
Shakib, promoted after the game was shortened, heaved Jadeja to the cow corner for his first boundary while Sabbir Rahaman played a reverse lap shot in the same over.
The 50 of the Bangladesh innings came in 7.3 overs. In the same over, Shakib pulled Pandya for a boundary and then played the lap shot through vacant fine leg region.
The dangerous looking Shakib paid for his pre-determined sweep shot as he offered a simple catch to Bumrah at short fine leg off Ashwin. Bangladesh were reduced to 64 for three.
Mushfiqur Rahim (4) could not properly drag his bat in while going for the second run as Dhoni quickly whipped off the bails off a Virat Kohli throw from the deep.
Skipper Mashrafe Mortaza was caught by Kohli at deep mid -wicket boundary off the very next ball while trying to hook Jadeja leaving the home team in total disarray at 75/5.