New Delhi, India (BBN)-Bangladesh’s entry into the Asia Cup final may be unexpected but it’s not undeserving, neither is it purely attributable to the T20 unpredictability.
Credit must be given where due, and the Bangla Tigers have earned their stripes en route a shot at their first major trophy, reports the IBN Live.
It will be the second time, after against Pakistan in 2012, that Bangladesh will play the Asia Cup final.
But there’s more than one reason to believe that their chances this time, despite India’s intimidating intent, are much better.
Over the last 18 months, it’s not the same Bangladesh ‘at home’. With ODI series wins over Pakistan, India and South Africa last year, Mashrafe Mortaza’s boys have broken free of the ‘minnows’ tag.
And if there was a need to repair the T20I record, the inaugural T20 Asia Cup trophy will confirm that as well.
But it won’t come at a platter for the hosts.
In India, they face a beast of a T20 outfit that, in captain MS Dhoni’s very own words, is capable of winning “against any team, anywhere, in any conditions”.
Having said that, the Bangla Tigers couldn’t have been in better form to cause a major upset.
If they don’t like to be addressed as minnows, then ‘giant-killers’ will for sure appear equally demeaning to the Bangladeshis.
But they need to overcome India on Sunday to reaffirm that beating Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the league stage can’t be termed ‘unexpected’.
After being tamed by India in the tournament opener, the hosts got back up on their feet by demolishing UAE before stunning defending champions Sri Lanka by 23 runs and then ejecting Pakistan with a five-wicket win.
If they can turn the tables on two subcontinent giants, then there is no reason to doubt the threat India face.
The pressure on old warhorses such as Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal has considerably eased with the rise of young guns like Sabbir Rahman, Al-Amin Hossain and Taskin Ahmed.
The ‘cubs’ of this Bangladesh team have grown in the Asia Cup.
Rahman, with 144 runs in 4 matches, is second on the batting charts. Al-Amin is doing even better, leading the wicket-takers’ list with 10 victims so far in 4 matches.
Taskin’s pace has provided the fire up front, proving to be the perfect ally for Al-Amin.
Sabbir’s form has given Tamim the freedom to bring his flair from the Pakistan Super League into the Asia Cup, knowing that there is a talented young man below to prevent a bicycle-stand collapse.
Shakib and Mushfiqur are now the beam that ensure the ceiling doesn’t fall off while these young guns let it rip.
It’s one thing to say subcontinent conditions are similar, and entirely different when any of the four top teams in the region visits the other.
When the crowd is shouting its lungs off to support their team, it makes a huge, if not a decisive, difference to the morale of a team.
And of late, there’s no better example than Bangladesh’s to testify that.
Right from New Zealand in 2013, every team visiting Bangladesh has felt that pressure with home fans bobbing in the stands to lift their team.
India face Bangladesh for Asia Cup Final at Mirpur and that on Sunday.