Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli batted with authority to chase a competitive total and ensure that India clinched the Asia Cup for a record sixth time in Mirpur. Bangladesh were in the contest for most parts but ran out of steam in the end as the raucous crowd at the Shere Bangla Stadium was silenced.
That the match even happened was a minor miracle in itself. A heavy thunderstorm gripped Mirpur for at least a couple of hours into the pre-scheduled playing time. But, the ground staff braved the incessant rain and swooped in when the skies began to clear. A world-class drainage system also helped significantly to get the match started.
In the 15-over encounter, the power-play was reduced to 5 overs and each bowler could bowl a maximum of 3 overs. However, the Indians went in with their accustomed 3-seamer and 2-spinner combination as MS Dhoni opted to chase.
The hosts made a couple of changes with Nasir Hossain and Abu Hider bolstering the lower-order and death-overs bowling. And, the packed house wanted their opening batsmen to set the tone.
Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar heeded to their request and began to assert themselves on the big stage. Five boundaries came in the first four overs as Ashish Nehra was wayward in his line and length.
However, the seasoned campaigner came back strongly to pick up Sarkar who could not clear the in-field. Bumrah complemented his senior partner by pegging Iqbal back with a slew of unplayable deliveries. Eventually, Iqbal perished to the one which straightened from an awkward angle and trapped him in front.
Bangladesh finished the Power Play at 30/2 and needed a partnership to steady the ship. Sabbir Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan tried to rotate the strike and were initially cautious against the spinners. Gradually, Shakib broke free with a couple of canny boundaries against Ravindra Jadeja to reduce the pressure.
Hardik Pandya was introduced into the attack and Shakib took advantage of his inexperience by with admirable improvisation. But, Ravichandran Ashwin outwitted him by forcing a mistake from the all-rounder.
Mushfiqur Rahim and Mashrafe Mortaza departed in quick succession to leave the home team reeling at 75/5. Meanwhile, Sabbir continued to find the gaps as Mahmudullah went for the big hits.
The 30-year old looted 21 runs from Pandya’s penultimate over to regain the momentum. But, Bumrah completed his spell with pin-point accuracy as Bangladesh reached 120.
‘Dazzling’ Dhawan finds his touch
India’s pursuit started on the wrong note when Rohit Sharma drove away from his body and edged Al-Amin Hossain to slip. Kohli who has been on an irresistible run in T20Is arrived at the crease, eager to elongate his daunting record in chases.
Taskin sustained the pressure at the other end by employing a disciplined line which increased the required run-rate. But, Dhawan and Kohli rode out the tough phase by soaking up the pressure.
Then, the Delhi duo flexed their muscles by targeting Shakib relentlessly as the boundaries began to flow. The faces in the crowd were filled with gloom as the partnership tightened the noose around Mortaza's side.
Dhawan shrugged off his patchy form by finally coming to the party and notched up his second T20I fifty. Kohli ably supported him by punishing the loose balls and showing his big match temperament.
The fielding from Bangladesh left a lot to be desired as runs were leaked at crucial moments. Despite a stunning catch by Sarkar to send back Dhawan, the visitors were not to be perturbed as skipper Dhoni entered the arena.
Brushing aside all the talk about his waning reflexes, the veteran finisher dispatched Al-Amin into the stands repeatedly to seal the match for his country with a 6-ball 20.
Brief Scores: Bangladesh 120/5 from 15 overs (Mahmudullah 33*, Sabbir 32*, Bumrah 1-13 ); India 122/2 from 13.5 overs (Dhawan 60, Kohli 41*, Taskin 1-14)