Asia Cup final: How Bangladesh surprised themselves with shock opening stand

Ajit Vijaykumar 19:18 28/09/2018
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Liton Das (l) and Mehidy Hasan added 120 for the first wicket in the Asia Cup final.

On the eve of the final, Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza had promised that he will spring a surprise at the top of the order in the Asia Cup final against India in Dubai on Friday.

“We have surprised at this event. Maybe tomorrow [Friday] you will see someone who has never opened before. So we’re ready for everything,” the skipper had said.

The belief was that Soumya Sarkar or maybe even Imrul Kayes would open the innings. Bangladesh needing a big push at the top of the order after regular opener Tamim Iqbal broke his wrist within the first 15 minutes of the tournament opener against Sri Lanka while the already injured Shakib Al Hasan aggravated his finger during the course of the tournament and had to fly back ahead of the final.

But absolutely no one outside the Bangladesh team management expected young off-spinner Mehidy Hasan to walk out to face the first over. That’s because not only had he never opened in ODIs, he had never batted at the top of the order in any level of professional cricket.

The idea was to surprise the Indian bowling and also provide some extra cushion down the order. And it worked better than even Mortaza would have dreamed of.

Bangladesh openers added 120 in 21 overs. But it wasn’t the way they had originally planned. While Das batted with complete freedom, free of any pressure and with the knowledge of an extra batsman in the lower order, Hasan seemed to freeze at the big stage.

Hasan batted with a strike of around 50 throughout his 59-ball 32 and never looked like getting on with the scoring. It was up to Das to go after the bowling, which he did brilliantly.

While Das scored his maiden 50-plus score in ODIs in his 18th outing, Hasan couldn’t get going. Even so, a 120-run opening stand surprised even Bangladesh. They seemed so unprepared for it that when the first wicket fell on 120, the Tigers allowed India right back into the match.

Jadhav picked up two wickets in the final.

Jadhav picked up two wickets in the final.

Part-time spinner Kedar Jadhav had to be pressed into action as all frontline bowlers went for runs. Jadhav started to make things happen by dismissing Hasan and then got the biggest scalp in the form of Mushfiqur Rahim.

In between, one-down batsman Imrul Kayes fell lbw to leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal and the stumble was complete when in-form batsman Mohammad Mithun was run-out after a horrible mix-up with centurion Das. From 120 for no loss, Bangladesh slipped to 139-4 in seven overs.

During the opening stand, Mortaza was seen beating his chest, demanding the batsmen to show greater heart. It would have been better if he had pointed to his head. After 20 overs, all Bangladesh needed was four to five runs an over for the next 15 and with an extra batsman in the line-up, they could have easily gone for 300.

But they allowed India’s bowlers a sniff, and the men in blue closed in. It was reminiscent of India’s opening match against Hong Kong. There, openers Anshuman Rath and Nizakat Khan added 174 for the opening wicket in 24 overs chasing 286 for a stunning win. It was a remarkable stand but once they reached a stage where all they needed to do is move and finish the job, they failed. Bangladesh know they let India’s bowlers off the hook as they were bundled out for 222, with three wickets going to run-outs.

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