Moment of truth for high-flying Tigers

06 March,2016

RTNN News Desk: The whole nation has raised its hands together in prayers, hoping for the Tigers to roar once again when they face India today in the high-voltage final of the Asia Cup Twenty20 at Mirpur’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.

A pleasant breeze has been blowing around the horizon ever since the Tigers came of age in ODIs last year.

There were however, slight concerns regarding the shortest format of the game. Until of course, the time when Mashrafe bin Mortaza and his troop announced their grand presence in the ongoing Asia Cup.

This is the second time in history that the Tigers have reached the final of the regional showpiece competition. The first final appearance came in 2012 when hosts Bangladesh lost to Pakistan by a tantalising margin of two runs. The scenario might be a bit different this time, owing to the T20 format, but the hunger and desire still remain the same.

On the eve of the all-important clash, the Bangladesh dressing room received a slight jolt in the shape of all-rounder Shakib al Hasan, who took a blow on his right thigh during a nets session yesterday.

Team physio Bayejidul Islam however, swatted away all the worries when he confirmed that there is nothing to be worried about and that Shakib will be fit to play, much to the delight, and relief, of the fans.

Heading into the clash, a lot will depend on opening batsmen Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar. The latter, following a few stop-start displays in the tournament gained some confidence after his magnificent 48-run knock against Pakistan.

Tamim, on the other hand, missed the start of competition but returned to the side in the Pakistan tie. Having made seven, the southpaw will look to go back to his regular run-scoring ways.

Coming in at No 3, Sabbir Rahman will be expected to persist with his counter-attack approach, no matter what the situation. If his 54-ball 80 against Sri Lanka is anything to go by then the Tigers supporters are in for a real treat.

The Tigers’ experienced middle-order, comprising Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim, however, are yet to fire from all cylinders. It is a slight concern for the hosts but the duo might just be saving their best for the big occasion.

The ever reliable Mahmudullah will shepherd the lower middle-order along with skipper Mashrafe bin Mortaza, who can be dangerous with the willow in the latter overs.

The Tigers’ pace bowling department, meanwhile, will be marshalled by usual suspects Mashrafe, pacemen Taskin Ahmed and Al Amin Hossain while it was learned in the eleventh hour that young pace bowler Abu Haider Rony might be included as a surprise inclusion in place of left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny.

India, in contrast, have played clinical cricket to reach the final, successfully maintaining their hundred percent record in four round-robin matches. World-class players like Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, among others, make up a formidable batting line-up and boast the ability to take the game away from the opposition in a jiffy.

In the meantime, India’s bowling, which has fallen short on numerous occasions in the past, has been a breath of fresh air as far as the Indian fans are concerned. Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah have been consistent right throughout the tournament while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja have taken regular wickets besides being economical. Seamer-allrounder Hardik Pandya has also played his part well, especially with the leather.

The pitches at the home of cricket in Mirpur have surprisingly aided the pacemen for the majority of the ongoing edition but it is all set to change with today’s wicket expected to promise much for stroke-making.

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