Tigers choke after strong start

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Chasing 7th Asia Cup title, India fight at 160-4 in 36 overs after B’desh fail to convert good start into big total

India’s unorthodox spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadhav wreaked havoc after opener Liton Das’s fine hundred as Bangladesh were bowled out for a modest 222 in the final of the Asia Cup here on Friday.

Chasing 223 to win their seventh Asia Cup title, India was batting at 154 for four in 35 overs with former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni batting sensibly at 35 of 63 balls while keeper turned all rounder Kedar Jadhav was at 12 of 10 balls.

India still need 69 of 90 balls to win the game as well as the title.

India started its chase for seventh Asia cup title in fashion but the opening duo of Dhawan and Rohit couldn’t add much for the opening stand and Dhawan was caught for 15 runs by Sarkar of Nazmul Islam in the fifth over of the match.

After Dhawan’s dismissal Ambati Rayudu move into bat but the Hyderabadi batsman who had an impressive outing so far in the tournament couldn’t do much in the final clash and was sent back to pavilion for just two runs.

However then number four Dinesh Karthik and skipper Rohit Sharma tried to build partnership to avoid any further damage but that effort also didn’t last for long. Rohit who was in very good form in the entire series fall just two run short of his third fifty in the Asia Cup and was out for 48 runs.

At the time of Rohit’s wicket, India’s scorecard read 83 for 3 in 16.4 overs.

And as Rohit was in his way back to pavilion, MS Dhoni enters the field in the kind of situation which was no new for him, as in his span of 14 years in Int’l cricket he faced such tense moments so many times.

Dhoni starts slow but punish bad balls for boundaries to keep Indian hopes alive for the seventh title.

But as it was looking that now India are in comfortable position, Dinesh Karthik was out leg before by Mahmudullah to add another in the tight clash where the Bangladeshi tigers want to be third time lucky after losing in final episode on previous two occasions.

Earlier batting first, an injury-ravaged Bangladesh made a flying start, courtesy Liton’s maiden ODI hundred (121 off 117 balls), as he added 120 runs with fellow opener Mehidy Hasan Miraz (32).

Just when it looked like Bangladesh would make a match of it, things went downhill as India’s tiny neighbours suffered an all-too-familiar batting collapse, losing 10 wickets for 102 runs. The innings lasted 48.3 overs.

Chinaman Kuldeep’s 3 for 45 was well complemented by Kedar’s 2/41 in nine overs of unconventional off-breaks, as Bangladesh frittered away the initiative with poor shot selection.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s smart work behind the stumps also played its part as much as Ravindra Jadeja’s electric fielding inside the 30-yard circle.

Promoting lower-order batsman Miraz as opener was a masterstroke by skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, who wanted to preserve his regular opener Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar.

Miraz did his job perfectly by dropping anchor as Liton hit a flurry of boundaries off Jasprit Bumrah (1/39) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Anything on his legs was dispatched to the boundary.

When Yuzvendra Chahal (1/31 in 8 overs) was introduced, he was hit over deep mid-wicket for a six, as India found it difficult to get a breakthrough.

However, things changed once Miraz was caught by Ambati Rayudu in the cover region off Kedar’s bowling.

The moment Kedar started bowling his side-arm off-breaks, Bangladesh couldn’t force the pace as he mixed his deliveries well. He bowled an impressive 28 dot balls.

Imrul Kayes (2) was adjudged leg-before off Chahal and the in-form Mushfiqur Rahim (2) pulled a rank half-tracker from Kedar straight into the deep mid-wicket’s hands.

From 120 for no loss, Bangladesh slumped to 137 for three and things went from bad to worse from thereon.

Mohammed Mithun (2) was the next to go. Jadeja dived full stretched to stop a cover drive from Liton and then threw the ball back to the non-striker’s end after watching Mithun halfway down the pitch.

Mahmudullah (4) played across the line off Kuldeep and Bumrah took a well-judged catch at the deep mid-wicket boundary.

Liton, who carried manfully by hitting 12 boundaries and two sixes, was finally stumped by a hair’s breadth when he missed Kuldeep’s wrong ‘un.

While Liton was stumped while playing a defensive stroke, skipper Mashrafe jumped out to try a wild heave, only to miss Kuldeep’s googly and get stumped by Dhoni.

In the end, what promised to be a score in excess of 275 was brought down to 222.

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