India have looked as good as any team can look really in the T20 format, while Bangladesh have ridden the home wave to book their place in the final of the 2016 Asia Cup. Come Sunday, Bangladesh will look to ride that wave one more time all the way to the title, but to do that they will need to beat the team who have been the best side in the competition by a country mile.
Ticking off boxes is what India have done with this tournament, with the batsmen showing their quality and gumption in trying conditions while the bowlers – be that the seamers or spinners – have gone about their business rather well.
Dhoni’s men have barely put a foot wrong all 2016 in the T20 format – the only blemish being the batting debacle in Pune against Sri Lanka – and win or lose they will go into the World T20 they are hosting as the overwhelming favourites.
Going into the World T20 as the Asia Cup champions, though, does add a bit more gloss to the whole affair, and as a result India will want to finish this tournament the way they started it – by beating Bangladesh.
The home team have done well to bounce back from that opening defeat to India, impressively beating the UAE, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Bowling has been the key for Bangladesh, with Mashrafe Mortaza’s men even managing a victory over Shahid Afridi’s side without their strike bowler Mustafizur Rahman.
The left-armer will not be there for this final, either, but then, Mustafizur did not have a great game against India in the Asia Cup opener, when Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya latched onto him.
That first innings score of 166 in the opening match remains the highest score by some distance in this Asia Cup, and green pitch or no green pitch, Bangladesh will have to play out of their skins to get the better of this India team.
India rested three of their main bowlers in their final league match against the UAE, but still dominated the Associate side in such a manner that they picked up their highest ever T20I victory in terms of balls left.
That showed India’s bench strength as well, but with Ashish Nehra, R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja set to come back into the side, Dhoni and co. will be confident of picking up their fifth straight victory in this Asia Cup – seventh consecutive overall – and with it the title.
Asia Cup 2016 final schedule: India vs Bangladesh.
Date: Sunday, March 6.
Time: 7.30 p.m. local time (7 p.m. IST, 6.30 p.m. PKT, 5.30 p.m. GST, 1.30 p.m. GMT, 8.30 a.m. ET).
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka.
TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD. Bangladesh: Channel 9 and Bangladesh TV. UK, Europe, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada: Yupp TV. Pakistan: Geo Super, Ten Sports and PTV. Middle East and North Africa: OSN Sports Cricket HD. Sri Lanka: MTV Sports, Star network and SL national channel.