Sports desk, September 27: Bangladesh reached the final of the 14th Asia Cup defeating Pakistan by 37 runs in a virtual semifinal at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.Bangladesh will play the final against India at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on September 28 to utilise their third chance to have the maiden title of the six-nation continental tournament after 2016 and 2014 at home.
Bangladesh missed out on the title twice recently – once in the 50-over Asia Cup in 2012 and the Twenty20 version in 2016, losing to Pakistan and India by two runs and eight wickets respectively.
This will be the third consecutive Asia Cup final for Bangladesh, and the second time the Tiger are getting India as opponent.
Bangladesh got three win against two losses in this tournament to reach into the final, starting their campaign with a137-run win against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener before upset by 136-runs against Afghanistan in their Group ‘B’ last match.
The Tigers’ made a frustrating start in the Super-Four stage with conceding a seven-wicket loss against India before got the track eliminating Afghanistan by three runs in a last ball thriller.
In the day’s match, posted 239 and restricted Pakistan on 202 for 9 in 50 overs where cutter master Mustafizur Rahman roared for four wickets for 43 runs off 10 overs.
In Bangladesh innings, man of the match Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mithun once again salvaged the Bangladesh innings from a perilous spot, helping the Tigers recover and also go on to post a winning total, despite failing to bat their full complement of overs.
Opting to bat first, Bangladesh will be disappointed to have batted just 48.5 overs for their collection.
Mushfiq meanwhile will be disappointed at missing out on a 7th ODI century by a whisker, out playing a tired shot on 99 that featured nine boundaries off 116 balls.
Mithun completed his second ODI half century – both in the ongoing Asia Cup and both with Mushfiq partnering him at the other end. Eventually he was out for 60 off 84 balls, including four boundaries.
Mithun was removed from 4th partnership on 156/4 in 33.4 overs as he was caught and bowled by Hasan Ali.
Mushfiq was caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed off Shaheen Shah Afridi when scoreboard showing for Bangladesh at 197/6 in 41.4 overs.
Mushfiq and Mithun came together after Liton Kumar Das’s dismissal on 12/3 in 4.2 overs, which was a big blow after opening batsman Soumya Sarkar and Mominul Haque’s dismissals on 5/1 in 2.5 ovrs and on 12/2 in 3.5 overs respectively.
Mahmudullah Riyad [25 off 31b; 1×4], skipper Mashrafe Mortaza [13 off 13b; 1×6] and Mehidy Hasan Miraz [12 off 11b; 1×4] were other double digit scorers for Bangladesh.
Left-handed pacer Junaid Khan captured four wickets for 19 runs while Shaheen Shah Afridi [2/47] and Hasan Ali [2/60] and Shadab Khan [1/52] shared five wickets for Pakistan.
However, both Mushfiq and Mithun played heroic roles for Bangladesh’s victory of 137 runs against Sri Lanka in the tournament opener where diminutive Mushfiq hit his ODI best 144 and Mithun completed his maiden ODI half century alongside they shared a partnership of 131 off 23.3 overs in the 3rd wicket.
In Pakistan innings, opening batsman Imam-ul-Haq top-score 83 off 105 balls, including two boundaries and one six before being stumped by Liton Kumar Das off Mahmudullah Riyad on 167/ 7 in 40.5 overs.
Asif Ali [31 off 47b; 3×4], Shoaib Malik [30 off 51 b; 2×4], Shaheen Shah Afridi [14* off 20b; 1×6] and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed [10 off 7b; 2×4] were other double-digit scorers for Pakistan.
Bangladesh dismissed three top-order batsmen of Pakistan within 3.3 overs conceding just 18 runs and the force continued up to the 25.1 overs as got the next two wickets with in 94 runs before Asif Ali and Imam-ul-Haq shared a partnership of 71 off 14.1 overs in the 6th wicket to carry the team collection to 165/ 6 in 39.2 overs.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz brought the first breakthrough for Bangladesh in his 5th ball of the innings very 1st over as dismissing opener Fakhar Zaman, who was caught by Rubel Hossain at Pakistan’s collection of 2 runs.
Then the cutter-master Mustafizur Rahman got two quick wickets Babar Azam and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed within a span of 15 runs.
Mustafiz trapped lbw Babar Azam on 3/2 in 1.2 overs while Sarfraz Ahmed was caught behind by Mushfiqur Rahim on 18/3 in 3.3 overs.
Apart from Mustafiz’s four-for, Mehidy Hasan Miraz [2/28], Rubel Hossain [1/38] Mahmudullah [1/38] and Soumya Sarkar [1/19] shared five wickets for the victory.