DUBAI: India made heavy weather of a modest target before prevailing in a nerve-shredding final against Bangladesh by three wickets to defend their Asia Cup title on Friday.
Chasing 223 for win, India’s fancied top order let the team down but a hamstrung Kedar Jadhav’s all-around brilliance helped them win their seventh continental title off the final delivery of the contest.
Earlier Liton Das registered his maiden one-day century but Bangladesh squandered a flying start to be bowled out for 222 in the 49th over.
“We played some good cricket throughout the tournament and this is the reward for the hard work,” India captain Rohit Sharma said.
“Credit to the guys, who handled the pressure well and it was a great effort to get over the line. Credit to Bangladesh also, they batted brilliantly.”
Sharma was confident of his team’s ability to chase under the lights and elected to field but an early breakthrough eluded his team.
Liton scored freely and Mehidy Hasan Miraz celebrated his surprise promotion in a 120-run opening-wicket stand that laid the foundation for a big total at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
A desperate Sharma pressed Jadhav into service and the part-timer’s low-slung spinners once again came in handy.
Jadhav dismissed Miraz for 32 and sowed a seed of panic in the batting order as Bangladesh slumped to 151-5 in the 33rd over.
Liton needed 87 balls to bring up his century but was dismissed for 121, stumped off Kuldeep Yadav.
Most Bangladesh batsmen were guilty of poor shot selection and chaotic running which resulted in three run-outs as they could not last their full quota of 50 overs.
Sharma led India’s reply with characteristic ease, hitting three sixes in his fluent 48, but his Bangladesh counterpart Mashrafe Mortaza cleverly marshalled his bowlers and maintained attacking fields to keep them under pressure.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni (36) and Dinesh Karthik (37) revived the chase by safely accumulating runs in the middle overs but their departure in quick succession injected fresh excitement in the see-saw contest.
Jadhav, who was forced out of the ground with the hamstring injury, limped back amid mounting tension, with India needing six runs off the final over from Mahmudullah.
The Bangladesh spinner did not concede a boundary but scores were level when a limping Jadhav took guard to face the final delivery, which resulted in a leg bye that sealed India’s victory.