Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India were crowned Asia Cup champions after Kedar Jadhav scampered through for a leg bye off the last ball to lead his side to a nail-biting three-wicket win over Bangladesh.
Being put in to bat first, Bangladesh got off to a superb start as opener Liton Das and Mehidy Hasan Miraz amassed a 120-run partnership, during which Liton raced past his fifty.
With Bangladesh having caught India by surprise, the men in blue did everything in their power to break the opening stand.
They eventually got the breakthrough they were looking for in the 21st over when Mehidy was caught by Ambati Rayudu at cover point off the bowling of Jadhav for 32.
Bangladesh began to collapse after Mehidy’s dismissal as Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun and Mahmudullah all fell in quick succession.
Liton went on to score a career-best 121, which came off 117 balls and included 12 boundaries and two sixes, before he was stumped by MS Dhoni off the bowling of Kuldeep Yadav.
Bangladesh continued to crumble once Liton was gone, but Soumya Sarkar managed to score 33 before his side were bowled out for 222.
Kuldeep was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Jadhav snapped up two, and Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 223 to win, India got off to a brisk start before opener Shikhar Dhawan was caught by Sarkar at mid-off off the bowling of Nazmul Islam for 15.
Rayudu only scored two runs before he was caught behind off the bowling of Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza.
India skipper Rohit Sharma managed to score a 55-ball 48, which included three boundaries and three sixes, before he was dismissed by Rubel Hossain.
Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik stabilised the innings with a 54-run partnership before Karthik was trapped lbw off the bowling of Mahmudullah for 37.
Dhoni ended up making 36 before he was caught behind off the bowling of Mustafizur Rahman.
Jadhav was forced to retire hurt after suffering a hamstring injury shortly after, but Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put together a crucial 45-run partnership before Jadeja was caught behind off the bowling of Rubel for 23.
Jadeja was not given out initially, but Bangladesh reviewed and got the breakthrough they sorely needed as replay showed that Jadeja had got a faint edge.
Kumar was sent packing in the penultimate over of the match as he was caught behind off the bowling of Mustafizur for 21.
However, Jadhav, who returned after Jadeja was dismissed, kept India in contention as they needed six runs to win going into the final over.
India managed to get five runs off five balls, which left them needing one run to win off the last ball of the match.
Jadhav failed to connect with his shot on the final delivery, but the ball struck his pad and rolled towards short fine leg, which allowed him and Kuldeep to scurry through for a leg bye to lead India to victory.
Jadhav finished unbeaten on 23, which came off 27 balls and included a boundary and a six.
Rubel and Mustafizur took two wickets apiece, while Nazmul, Mortaza and Mahmudullah claimed one wicket each.
Mortaza was gutted to have lost, and said: “Yes, we played with our heart. We played till the last ball, but we did mistakes with both bat and ball. If you look at our bowling, every time we score more than 240 we win the matches. That’s what we asked from the batsmen. But in the end, the bowlers did a really good job. The way India were scoring, it was important to bowl Mustafizur in the 49th, because they were scoring every ball. So couldn’t introduce a spinner at that stage.”
Rohit was over the moon to have won the Asia Cup, and said: “We played some good cricket through the tournament and this is the reward for hard work. We’ve put in a complete performance. We dominated the entire tournament and this is the reward. Games like these can happen, and I’ve been part of such encounters before. But credit to the boys out there to handle the pressure towards the end. And to cross the finish line was a great effort.
“Bangladesh batted brilliantly, put us under pressure early. But we knew that we could get back when the ball becomes older. It was important to keep the pressure building, and it was something we did well in doing. With a team so good, the captain always looks good. But it’s not easy without the support of the ten other players, so credit to them. Last but not the least, thanks to the crowd. Right from the beginning, they’ve come in huge numbers.”
Liton was named Man of the Match.