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Saturday, September 29, 2018

India Asian Champions Again, Lift Unimoni Asia Cup-2018!


It is only logical that the unbeaten team of the Unimoni Asia Cup tournament become the eventual champions. India was the only team that remained unbeaten and in the Final tonight became the worthy champions beating an upbeat Bangladesh by wickets. However, the highly competitive match was not without its moments of worries or even scares. First, it was a risky toss to win owing to India’s decision to field first, because in the slow pitches of UAE a total around 250 often proved to be insurmountable. Second, Bangladesh did show the promise of running away with the match while batting. Third, in the Indian innings loss of Dhawan and Rayadu early and the departure of Rohit while in full flow raised scares for an Indian conquest. And then the fall of Dhoni at the score 160/5 put the onus of a victory on the bowlers again.

Put into bat Bangladesh started a brilliant opening partnership of 120 runs in just 20 overs and looked set for a total of over 250 runs. However, all the Indian spinners including Kedar Jadhav got into an action mode accounting for a flurry of wickets in the next few overs. Opener Liton Das batted till the 40th over for his superlative century (121). Unfortunately for Bangladesh there were only two innings of substance from Mehidy Hasan (32) and Soumya Sarkar (33). The unlucky hero of the match against Pakistan Mushfiqur Rahim also fell cheaply. India seemed to be happy with the final Bangladesh target of 223 runs, the target looked immensely achievable by a team in top form.

The Indian innings was marked by ups and downs of the epic variety. At one time they looked to be winning easily and at another time suspense creeping in. The match turned into a thriller after MS Dhoni was the 5th wicket to fall at the score of 160 still needing 63 runs to win. However, there was no worry as far as the remaining overs were concerned. Kedar Jadhav and Ravindra Jadeja just needed to stick on. To add to the tension building up Jadhav had to retire hurt. Bangladesh pacers Mustafizur, Mashrafe and Rubel got really charged up firing all cylinders. Finally the Asian champions prevailed overwhelming the target in the last over, in fact the last ball, thanks to good work by Jadeja, Bhubaneshwar Kumar and Jadhav again. The Scorecard:

Interestingly in the tournament the teams that ran closest to beating India were Hong Kong—the newest entry in the Asian cricket arena, and the resurgent Afghanistan. Of course, the curious Indian experiments were largely esponsible for this scenario. The main contenders for the title, Pakistan and Bangladesh, were defeated by India in extremely one-sided matches, twice each. The Final was hard-fought going down the wire. 

India begin their campaign against the visiting West Indies next month with matches in all three formats when the regular captain Virat Kohli is expected to lead the team again.

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