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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Mohammad Sami bowls Bangladesh to a place in finals in Asia Cup

World would never forget Mohammad Amir’s no-ball crime; resultant ban and sentence notwithstanding. Bangladeshi fans would ever rejoice these no balls of Mohammad Sami.

The idea of Asia Cup was conceived in 1983 when the Asian Cricket Council was founded as a measure to promote goodwill between Asian countries. It was originally scheduled to be held every two years. The first tournament was held in 1984 in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates and was known as  Rothmans Asia Cup. Three teams took part in the tournament: India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in a round robin format where each team played the other – a total of only 3 matches.  India won both its matches and won the Cup.   Do you know or remember that the great Kapil Dev missed the tournament having to undergo a knee surgery in London and Imran Khan too did not play !

In 2012,  in  ODI no. 3267 that was finals of Asia Cup, at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mirpur, 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.   The nail-baiting finish was witnessed by a capacity crowd that included their Prime Minister  Begum Sheikh  Haseena, who watched the match as a Prime Minister, today too. 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.

This tournament is different – Asia Cup in T20 format while all earlier ones were 50 over One dayers.  Now with 2 matches to go, [India V UAE & Pak V Lanka]- the finals line-up is already drawn – it is India Vs Bangladesh on Sunday, Mar 6, 2016.

Having restricted Pak to 129/7 – Bangladesh were at best steady in the chase.  After 16 overs, they were 95/4 (35 runs required from 24 balls) Mahmudullah2 (5b) &     Shakib Al Hasan7 (9b) at crease. 17th over 2nd ball of tall  Mohammad Irfan soared over mid-off for a six – by Mahmudullah. It was 26 off 18. Mohammad Amir’s final over – first ball no run, second Shakib Al Hassan was out making a poor stroke.  26 off 16 -  Mashrafe Mortaza promoted self and hit a good 4, Sami’s fielding was found wanting though. Next came a ripping bouncer, not properly directed, the evasive action ensured a nudge and a four.

The roar was back as it was 18 off 12.  Afridi had a lengthy chat with Sami. It was 1-1-1; 15 off 9 …….. then came Mohammad Sami’s bounty ! – overstepped by a huge margin – Mashrafe hold out to long-off, ran 2 [3]; free hit yielded just a single; 2 off the next and off the last ball, Sami overstepped again – was hit for a four too. 15 came off it and only 3 required off the last over by Anwar Ali, whose 1st ball was hit for a 4.

Great moment for Bangladesh as they would play India in the finals of Asia Cup 2016.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

2nd Mar 2016

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