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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Asia Cup Finals - Bangladesh comes agonisingly closer

They came so close but could not realize their dreams – it was their first major Finals – the ‘Asia Cup Finals’ - ODI no. 3267 that too played at their home -  at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur.  Suddenly there was all talk about the left handed batsman and left arm spinner - Shakib Al Hasan,  unarguably the best  all rounder of Bangladesh, as being one of the best in International cricket.   That he has made 3567 ODI runs and taken 158 wickets were all cited in favour; he plays for Kolkatta Knight Riders in IPL.

There were reasons to think that Bangladesh were the  favourites to take the Cup, on their biggest day as a cricketing nation. A fourth consistent performance on the trot was expected.  They could have been chasing much lesser score but for the specialist wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who had a highest ODI score of 24 and a strike-rate of 62.35 before this game, turned 199 for 8 into 236 for 9 with a 52-ball 46.  Still a target of 237 was eminently gettable.
They had a good opening start – 68 when the first wicket fell at 16.4; then tumbled to 81/3, had a good partnership taking to 170. What made them lose the chase perhaps was the slow game of Nasir Hossain who made 28 off 63 and that of Nazimuddin who made 16 off 52.  Tamim Iqbal made 60 off 68;     Shakib Al Hasan made 68 off 72.

Still they had their chances till the last ball was bowled – it was a nail-baiting finish as the whole Bangladesh including their Prime Minister  Begum Sheikh  Haseena watched the encounter.  Sheikh Hasina, is the eldest of five children of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father (and first president) of Bangladesh and widow of a reputed nuclear scientist, M. A. Wazed Miah.

When Umar Gul began the penultimate over it ws 19 off 12.  First ball a single, second also yielded 1, 3rd was a no ball and batsmen ran one; the free hit was milked for 2; then it was 1,1,2.  Abdul Razzak on 6 and Mahmudullah on 13 as 9 more required from the last 6 legal deliveries; Aizaz Cheema came to bowl the last.  First ball -1; 2nd a leg bye; 7 off 4 now. 3rd a slower one yielded no run; 4th ball was high drama – batsmen ran two, keeper Sarfraz tried to flick the stumps, missed and presented an over throw.  The entire stadium was alive chanting and praying. 4 off 2.  Cheema bowled Razzak with a slower one. Shahadat Hossain  could earn only one as Pakistan won the Asia Cup for the second time.

A great performance by Bangladesh which they can be proud of – but they really lost a good opportunity to lift the cup today

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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