It was expected to be an India-Pakistan face off. The fans, broadcasters and other stakeholders of the game wanted it that way. But we must feel on Friday, the two best teams in this Asia Cup will lock horns in the title clash.
India, following the tied match against Afghanistan, will look to get into their grooves quickly. The five key players – Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Yuzvendra Chahal – who were rested in the last match, will come back in the playing XI. Barring the Afghanistan game, India might have had a smooth sail in this competition so far but in this finale, there should not be any complacency as they certainly do not want to repeat the mistakes of last year’s Champions Trophy final.
In this tournament, bowling has done an exceptional job for the ‘Men In Blue’. In the pace department, the Bhuveneshwar-Bumrah combination has always provided the early breakthroughs. Whereas, in the middle overs the spinners haven’t allowed the opposition batsmen to get away. On these slow-low pitches in Dubai, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Chahal, and Kedar Jadhav have claimed 23 scalps at an average of 25.26 and an economy of 4.17 altogether. This shows India’s dominance in the middle overs.
The Indian batting will once again depend heavily upon the opening pair, which has scored the bulk of the runs. However, others like Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, and Jadeja must remain vigilant if they are required for a bigger role in the final.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, have played some spirited cricket here despite losing two key players – Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan due to injuries. And following back-to-back victories against Afghanistan and Pakistan, they will go into the final with momentum on their side.
Unlike India, the Bangladesh batting heavily depends on its middle-order, which consists of the likes of Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Mithun, and Mahmadullah. In fact, Mushfiqur has been the backbone of this line-up and he has been well-supported by the youngster Mithun as the pair bailed their team out on a couple of occasions. Meanwhile, on Friday, they need a contribution from the top order as well.
Their bowling has been well managed by the likes of Mustafizur Rahman, Mehidy Hasan, Rubel Hossain, and skipper Mashrafe Mortaza. However, without Shakib, there is a bit of weakness in their bowling department. Hence, the team management wants the part-time option of Mahmadullah and Sarkar to chip as it happened against Pakistan.
The trend in this Asia Cup shows that wicket here in Dubai suits the team batting second. Hence, both teams would like to chase in this finale. However, irrespective of which teams anyone supports, the sell-out crowd at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium wants a close encounter to finish of this edition of the Asia Cup.