Commercially, the Asia Cup final will be a flop and television producers Star are set to lose millions of US$. Tickets too had been sold out expecting an epic India versus Pakistan final like in the Champions Trophy in London last year. But Alas, Pakistan crashed out of the virtual semi-final against Bangladesh in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. In the absence of their arch-rivals, India start today’s final at the Dubai Sports City against Bangladesh as firm favorites.The world order has changed. For three decades the regional tournament had been dominated by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. But now, Bangladesh have emerged as a force to be reckoned with. Bangladesh’s performance against Pakistan was commendable as victory was achieved sans their two key players – Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Their bench strength has helped them to make rapid strides in shorter formats of the game.
Without those two players it will be a tough ask for Bangladesh to challenge a balanced Indian side. However, stranger things have happened in the game of cricket.India, who have remained unbeaten in the six-nation competition, will bring back several players whom they rested for their last group game against Afghanistan.Bangladesh have been sharp on the field pulling off some outstanding catches throughout the competition and they could put pressure on India through their excellence on the field. Despite a strong top order, India’s middle order looks vulnerable. Bangladesh’s weak link is their bowling and they will be put under pressure by the likes of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
The Emirates Cricket Board that is hosting the Asia Cup on behalf of Board of Control for Cricket in India has put up a fine show so far and will be looking to sign off in style. Capacity crowds have watched games in Dubai as India made a return to UAE after 12 years.
India Squad: Rohit Sharma(Captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Siddarth Kaul and Khaleel Ahmed.
Bangladesh Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza(Captain), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes.