Well, you will have to agree that the Asia Cup 2018 has been far from the thrilling 'mauka-mauka' tournament where to cricketing giants from the sub-continent clashed to take the much talked about, followed and documented rivalry further. India may have had the upper hand lately but during the days when Imran Khan the sportsman was at the top of his game things were different. The two countries clashed so often in the 80's and the 90's that the record of wins currently stands at 73-53 to Pakistan. To top it all, the big one that everyone was waiting for will now not happen. The much-discussed Indo-Pak final has had Bangladesh come in and crash the party. At 5 p.m today, it will be the Boys in Blue vs the Mouni Roy fans (insert your own Naagin joke here).
Bangladesh will play defending champions India in the final in Dubai on September 28, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA
The last time the two teams came head to head in this tournament, Hardik Pandya's replacement Sir Ravindra Jadeja won the match for India single-handedly. Rohit Sharma scored an unbeaten 83 off 104 balls and we had quite literally brushed aside any and every threat from the boys in green. But while India has been unbeaten in the tournament so far, the last outing against Afghanistan was an eye-opener. A tie is hardly interesting in a game of football but in Cricket that's a rare animal. MS Dhoni's 200th match as captain was a thrilling affair Afghan, Mohammad Shahzad, scored an entertaining 124 off just 116 balls. His team played out the entire 50 overs against an Indian bowling attack that missed its top assassins (Bhuvi and Kuldeep in particular). But chasing 253, India were all out for 253 on the last bowl of the game. Technically since Afghanistan lost only 9 wickets and India were all out, the boys from Khyber did win that one.
Indian cricketer Ravindra Jadeja (C) celebrates with teammates after he dismissed Afghan batsman Najibullah Zadran during the one day international (ODI) Asia Cup cricket match between Afghanistan and India at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium in Dubai on September 25, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA
Ok, back to the final and it's an exciting one since Bangladesh is no pushover. The Mashrafe Mortaza-led side, however, has suffered a major setback going into the final. All-rounder, Shakib-Al-Hasan, was ruled out due to a finger injury. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal too had dropped out on the opening day of the tourney due to a wrist fracture. India will be without Pandya who has been ably replaced by Jadeja. But it's a final and the big match players should stand out.
India: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Bangladesh: Liton Das, Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfiqur Rahim (WK), Mominul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mashrafe Mortaza (C), Mehidy Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain