India wins Asia Cup for record sixth time


India demonstrated its dominance in Twenty20 cricket and regained continental supremacy, downing host Bangladesh by eight wickets in the final of the Asia Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium here on Sunday.

Bangladesh found its total of 120, after having been asked to bat, too meagre to challenge the efficiency of the Indians who completed the run chase with seven balls to spare. The match was reduced to a 15-over affair after a thundershower delayed the start by two hours.

Shikhar Dhawan played the lead with a chanceless 60 (44b, 9×4, 1×6) while Virat Kohli (41 not out) supported him ably in a 94-run stand for the second wicket. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced late fireworks, scoring 20 off just six balls (two sixes and a four), to ensure India’s sixth Asia Cup title. This was the 10th win in 11 matches for India — an encouraging statistic ahead of the ICC World T20.

Rohit Sharma struggled to time the ball and paid the price for playing away from the body, edging one to Soumya Sarkar at slip off Al-Amin Hossain. Dhawan took up the cudgels after his partner’s dismissal and joined hands with one of the finest strokeplayers in the game, Kohli, to advance the run chase. Kohli, who averages around 80 in chases, and Dhawan shared six boundaries in the fifth and sixth overs which fetched 29 runs and eased some pressure.

Those two overs tilted the advantage towards India and realising the need for immediate corrective measures, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza took the bowlers — Abu Haider Rony and Shakib Al Hasan — off. The skipper introduced his surprise package — off-spinner Nasir Hossain — who was drafted in place of left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny. Nasir put the brakes on the Indian scoring, but that seemed to have little effect on the situation as Mortaza himself remained comparatively expensive at the other end.

Dhawan recovered from a slow start, hitting eight boundaries and a six to reach his 50 off 35 balls. After 10 overs, India reached a healthy 71 for one and looked set for a comfortable win when the left-hander was brilliantly caught by Sarkar at point off Taskin Ahmed.

The match could have gone either way at that point, but Dhoni, promoting himself up the order, had other ideas. With India needing 22 of 14 balls, he smashed two sixes and four in the 14th over bowled by Al-Amin Hossain to seal the contest.

Mahmudullah on fire

Earlier, Bangladesh reached 120 for five, bolstered by some forceful hitting towards the end by Mohammad Mahmudullah (33 not out).

India found success through Ashish Nehra who got Soumya Sarkar (14) in the second over before young pacer Jasprit Bumrah dismissed the other opener, Tamim Iqbal.

Shakib, moving up the order, hauled the host out of the crisis, but fell when he mistimed a slog sweep off R. Ashwin. With Mushfiqur Rahim caught short by Virat Kohli and Mortaza falling for a duck, it was left to Mahmudullah to rescue the innings.

He sent Hardik Pandya out of the park twice and also hit a boundary as Bangladesh collected 21 runs off the penultimate over. It proved inadequate.

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