David versus Goliath as Bangladesh takes on India in Asia Cup final

Updated September 28, 2018

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Injury-hit Bangladesh face India in Asia Cup final today — File
Injury-hit Bangladesh face India in Asia Cup final today — File

From a Pakistani perspective, the Asia Cup 2018 may have ended on Wednesday night but in reality it hasn't. There is still one game left: the final, which will be played between India and Bangladesh in Dubai today.

It's no secret who the favourites in the tie will be. India, the most successful side of the tournament with six overall titles, will be back to its full strength, having rested several key players against Afghanistan in their last match.

If all goes according to plan, the Men in Blue will add a seventh Asia Cup title to their trophy cabinet. However, things have routinely not gone according to plan in this particular edition of the tournament, which gives Bangladesh a puncher's chance at the very least.

Read: 5 takeaways from Pakistan's humbling Asia Cup exit

The Tigers, who registered a famous win over Pakistan in their last outing to qualify for the final, will be without their key all-rounder Shakibal Hasan, whose fractured finger has forced him to fly back home.

India, on the other hand, will welcome the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal back to their line-up; the quintet was rested for the dead rubber against the Afghans.

Mushfiqur Rahim has been in fine form for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup 2018 — File
Mushfiqur Rahim has been in fine form for Bangladesh in the Asia Cup 2018 — File

Apart from their tournament opening win over Hong Kong, India, when full-strength, haven't been challenged by any side.

The key for them has been the solid groundwork their openers — Sharma and Dhawan — have been regularly laying for the rest of their batting unit.

But what is India's strength is Bangladesh's weakness. Their pairings have hardly ever delivered in the tournament. Whoever opens the bat for Bangla will have to give something for their side's middle and lower orders to work with.

It's tough to pick just one key player in the star-studded Indian line-up but for Bangladesh, the expectations to deliver will certainly be from the in-form batsman Mushfiqur Rahim and rising bowling star Mustafizur Rahman.

Bangla openers have had a torrid time thus far in the Asia Cup — File
Bangla openers have had a torrid time thus far in the Asia Cup — File

Bangladesh have come leaps and bounds in the past decade but their results against India, especially at major tournaments, have yet to reflect their improvement.

They last defeated India in a 50-over match in 2015 but have always come up short since. When these two teams clashed in the Super Four stage of the tournament last week, India romped to a comfortable seven-wicket win.

Bangladesh have never won the Asia Cup despite playing a dozen tournaments. The closes they came was in 2012 when they reached the final on home soil, only to see Misbahul Haq and co to break their hearts.

To erase that painful memory, to lift their first major trophy, Bangladesh face a proverbial David versus Goliath battle today. Many will count them out without a ball bowled or run made, and based purely on reputations. But then didn't David beat Goliath?


The writer is a cricket enthusiast from Karachi.