Bangladesh clinch maiden Women's Asia Cup title
In a stunning all-round display of cricket, Bangladesh Women have trounced India Women to become the first team other than India to win the Women's Asia Cup, snapping India's monumental streak of six consecutive titles.
At the Kinrara Academy Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Bangladesh were in full flight and made sure people in world cricket took notice of them and proved that their record chase against India earlier in the tournament was no fluke, but a well-orchestrated execution of their ability to play as a unit.
Chasing a mere 113 to clinch the Women's T20 Asia Cup, Bangladesh approached the chase very well, playing cautiously and waiting for the bad balls to score off. They set at a strong foundation of 33 for no loss of wickets at the end of the powerplay.
Leg-spinner Poonam Yadav dragged India back into the game with a double-wicket over, dismissing the openers Ayasha Rahman and Shamima Sultana, both falling to slow flighted deliveries, a ploy used well by both the teams in the course of the match.
Ekta Bisht and Poonam Yadav then put India in the driver's seat by conceding just 14 runs in their collective six overs, with Yadav picking three wickets as well. With 47 needed off six overs and the pressure mounting, Nigar Sultana smashed three consecutive fours off Jhulan Goswami's bowling to land the match-defining blow.
From there, a run-a-ball equation was never going to worry them and despite few sporadic hiccups late into the innings. Bangladesh sealed the chase in an exciting final over with Jahanara Alam cleverly hitting the ball through the in-field towards mid-wicket region and the return throw from there was not menacing enough to trouble their running as they completed the required two runs off the last ball to cause a major upset, making the Bangladeshi dugout and the huge local support of the expats into loud cheers of triumph.
Put in to bat first, India were given no breathing room in the powerplay with 13 dot balls in the first three overs and were able to put up just nine runs on the board. The pressure led to the dismissal of Smriti Mandhana, who in a fit of desperation to get the scorecard ticking, got run out after getting involved in a horrible mix-up for just 7 runs.
The procession continued with Deepti Sharma and Mithali Raj getting out in the span of four deliveries and in the next over, Anuja Patil had a moment of brain-fade as she crossed her line of running to come in the path of a throw and was adjudged out obstructing the field.
With the scoring dried up and wickets falling all around, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur stepped in and scored 56 off 42, even as nobody else contributed more than 11. Her innings was special given that it came at a strike rate of 133.33, a scoring pace 1.42 times the average run rate of the match. For Bangladesh, Nahida Akter's confining left-arm spin, was the pick of the bowling as she returned eventual match-winning figures of 4-0-12-0 with 16 dot balls, with the rest of the bowling feeding off of her consistency.
Rumana Ahmed was the player of the match for her spell of two wickets and a much needed stabilizing hand in the middle order as she scored 23(22) to steer Bangladesh closer to the target, while a visibly dejected Harmanpreet Kaur collected her trophy of the player of the tournament for being the most prolific scorer, clearly a personal accolade was not worth much given the circumstances.