Lasith Malinga’s comeback to international cricket after more than a year away was one oasis of cheer in a desert of gloom for Sri Lanka. They went out of the tournament with barely a whimper, but at lease their returning champion had enough time to leave an impression. The 35-year-old fast bowler took two wickets in successive balls at the end of the first over of the tournament. He managed 4-23 in all, but it was not enough to stop Bangladesh. Pawan Singh / The National
Not just the most indelible image in this tournament, but perhaps in the history of Bangladesh cricket. Tamim Iqbal, the star of Bangladesh’s batting line up, fractured his wrist in the second over of the opener against Sri Lanka. He went to hospital, was ruled out of the tournament, had his arm in a sling – yet still returned to bat, one-handed, at the end of the innings to help the team to vital late runs. It set the tone for the tournament. “My Asia Cup was won,” at that point, captain Mashrafe Mortaza later said. AP
It goes without saying Hong Kong’s matches against India and Pakistan were meetings between sports haves and have-nots. The sense that Hong Kong were poor relations could not have been more starkly conveyed as when MS Dhoni arrived at the crease, only to be caught at the wicket by Scott McKechnie. Dhoni’s net worth is estimated as being well more than US$100 million (Dh367m). McKechnie was on unpaid leave from his job as coach of Kowloon Cricket Club to play in the Asia Cup. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A little more than 24 hours earlier, cramp forced Aftab Alam to limp from the field after bowling just four overs in the intense heat of Abu Dhabi, during Afghanistan’s last group match, against Bangladesh. He came back to complete 10 overs of seam that day, and did the same a day later in the no-less stifling conditions against Pakistan.
Bowling the last over a tense run-chase, he was physically and emotionally spent. When Shoaib Malik forced the win off his bowling, Aftab fell to his knees and sobbed. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Thirty minutes before the start of the dead-rubber Super Four match between India and Afghanistan, supporters were given an unexpected treat MS Dhoni usually wears whatever clothes he chooses well. When it is full India kit, half an hour ahead of a day’s play, it means one thing: he is captain, heading to the toss. It took quite a run of events for Dhoni to add to his tally of 199 ODIs in which he has captained India. Virat Kohli was absent as he was rested from the series. Stand-in Rohit Sharma and third-choice Shikhar Dhawan were also given the day off together, meaning a belated return to leadership for Dhoni. Pawan Singh / The National
“What we saw today was the real Shahzad,” captain Asghar Afghan said of Mohammed Shahzad’s century against India for Afghanistan. “Unfortunately it came in the last match.” It was worth the wait. Shahzad was brutal from one end, while at the other, Afghanistan’s batsmen were bewitched by India’s thrifty bowlers. Shahzad celebrated it with arms spread wide and a slight backward lean, like a shorter, rounder Dhawan. AP Photo
There are few better fielders in the world, let alone Asia, than Ravindra Jadeja. The India all-rounder's athleticism proved crucial in the final against Bangladesh, with his run out of Mohammed Mithun. The television analysis of the incident was revealing. Jadeja dived at extra-cover, covered more than six metres in a flash, looked up and saw wicketkeeper Dhoni pointing to the other end. And he had the wherewithal to ignore Jasprit Bumrah’s advice to the contrary, and threw to the bowler Yuzvendra Chahal to complete the run out. AFP
It can be easy to underestimate captain Mashrafe Mortaza’s contribution to Bangladesh. He is not an overly prolific wicket-taker, bats down the order, and is hardly athletic in the field. He is, though, a constant source of inspiration for them. Rarely more so than when he dived to take the catch that dismissed Shoaib Malik, Pakistan’s most senior batsman, in the virtual semi-final in Abu Dhabi. Mortaza stood and celebrated, arm aloft like the Statue of Liberty. No-one would have known he had just dislocated a finger. He went from the field briefly, had it realigned, then got straight back to business. AFP
India would unquestionably be the biggest scalp yet for Afghanistan. They did not manage it in this tournament, but they could not have come any closer.
The Super Four meeting was an inconsequential classic. India’s last-wicket pair needed seven to win off the last over, with the tournament’s best bowler, Rashid Khan, bowling. Ravindra Jadeja struck a four – although a different TV angle might have deemed it a six – and he and Khaleel Ahmed managed two singles besides. Then Jadeja found Najibullah, the only fielder not saving the single India needed, on the boundary to seal an epic tie. AP Photo
Mashrafe Mortaza had given everything. He had bowled his 10 overs. His three best other bowlers – Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain and Nazmul Islam – had bowled theirs, too. So who to send down the tournament-deciding over, with six to defend? Mehidy Hasan had been off-colour with his off-spin. Mahmudullah was not obviously trusted. Soumyar Sarkar started to mark out his run up, to bowl his first over of the final, and the competition’s last. Then Mashrafe changed the plan, gave the ball to Mahmudullah – and India made it across the winning line anyway. AP Photo