No Virat Kohli, no problem for India. Even without their biggest name player, the defending Asia Cup champions wrapped up another title, as they beat Bangladesh by three wickets in Dubai.
The victory, played out in front of a packed house at a heaving Dubai International Stadium, was their seventh in the continent’s top limited-overs competition.
Bangladesh, who have now lost three of the past four Asia Cup finals, had their hearts broken again, as a limping Kedar Jadhav and Kuldeep Yadav saw the Indians to the six they required off the last over of the tournament.
Bangladesh had been down to the bare bones by the end of this Asia Cup. Tamim Iqbal, their leading batsman, was ruled out after an injury suffered in the second over of the tournament.
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Before the must-win final match of the Super Four stage, Shakib Al Hasan, their outstanding all-rounder, finally succumbed to the finger injury that he has been nursing for some while.
With all the absentees among the leading actors, they needed someone to step up from the fringes. Liton Das took it upon himself to be that guy.
Until this final, the 23-year-old opener had an average of just 14 in the 17 ODIs he had played to date. So no hint, therefore, that he was going to take this cup final by storm.
That is precisely what he did, though, as he helped himself to a classy century, meting out the sort of treatment India’s front-line bowlers have not been used to in this tournament.
His response to reaching three figures was more sheepish and understated than might have been expected for some a feat on such an occasion, though.
It perhaps stemmed from the fact he had just been involved in the run out of Mohammed Mithun. Both Mithun and Liton finished at the same end as Ravindra Jadeja affected a typically brilliant run out at the other.
That was the fourth wicket to fall for the addition of just 19 runs, as Bangladesh’s innings threatened to hit the buffers. The rot was terminal.
Liton and Mehidy Hasan put on 102 for the first wicket. Then 10 wickets then fell for the addition of just 102 combined.
Kuldeep took three wickets, but Bangladesh were undone more than anything by their dismal running between the wickets.
Where Mithun went first, Nazmul Islam and Soumyar Sarkar followed, as Bangladesh capitulated to 222 all out with nine balls unused. It should have been so much better for them.
Given the form India – and their openers in particular – have been in, most would have expected them to make easy work of the chase.
It was hardly a waltz, though, on a pitch that was wearing under the workload of a third match on the same strip.
Shikhar Dhawan suffered a rare failure, driving powerfully to mid-off off Nazmul Islam’s left-arm spin. Ambati Rayudu followed soon after, edging behind off Mashrafe Mortaza.
Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni all made starts, but all fell before getting the job done.
To further muddy the issue, Jadhav was incapacitated by a hamstring injury. It first made running between the wickets a lottery, then accounted for him altogether, as – prompted by the gesticulations of the dressing room – he opted to retire hurt instead.
Jadeja and Bhuvenshwar Kumar took the Indians close, only to each fall with the victory line in sight. Jadhav returned, though, and took the holders to the title in a thrilling finish.