India have been the only unbeaten team in the Asia Cup 2018
India have been the only unbeaten team in the Asia Cup 2018 (AFP Photo)

India and Bangladesh will face in the final of Asia Cup 2018 on Friday. This is the second time after the Nidahas Tri-series final earlier this year that the two teams will be locking horns in a title clash. Former India captain Sourav Ganguly feels that for Bangladesh to give India a tough fight, they will have to get rid of India openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma quickly.

“India have looked unbeatable in this competition. After a shaky start against Hong Kong, they have just got stronger and stronger and will not be easy to beat in the final. Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan have batted exceptionally well and the break they got from not playing in the game against Afghanistan would have done them a world of good in these testing conditions,” he wrote in his column for The Times of India on Friday.

He further added, “For Bangladesh to remain in the contest, it will be important to control these two batsmen first before they look at others. Their exceptional form upfront means that the Indian middle-order has not come under much pressure, other than in the game against Afghanistan.”

If Bangladesh bat first, Ganguly predicted a target in the vicinity of 275 will be required against an in-form India. “For Bangladesh to even stay competitive, a good score of around 275 will be required or else India will run away with the game,” he said.

Bangladesh will miss their talismanic allrounder Shakib Al Hasan due to injury and as per Ganguly, it’s a “major blow” to their chances. “The loss of Shakib Al Hasan is a major blow especially with his bowling which helped balance the side. I do feel, however, that his position at No. 3 is a bit too high for him. Bangladesh have depended on Mushfiqur Rahim to see them through in big games but it cannot be him all the time, especially with the load he takes on as the ‘keeper. The rest will have to stand up, too,” he observed.

Praising the Indian pace duo of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ganguly wrote, “The Indian side will remain unchanged from the one which played against Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier, and the threat of Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will loom over the Bangladeshi batsmen. Both have been exceptional with the ball, especially Bumrah who has been a standout in all formats for India. It jut goes to show that quality players adapt themselves to all formats of the game.”

Ganguly is worried about the quality of cricket displayed by Sri Lanka and Pakistan in the Asia Cup. While Sri Lanka exited the tournament in the first round itself losing to Afghanistan and Bangladesh, Pakistan were eliminated in the Super Four stage, losing to India and Bangladesh.

Ganguly expressed his concerns saying steps need to be taken to address the issue behind their poor show in recent times.

“As much as Bangladesh’s resurgence and Afghanistan’s emergence is good news for the game, the quality of cricket displayed by Pakistan and Sri Lanka – the giants of Asia – has left a massive dent in world cricket,” Ganguly wrote.

“It should be a matter of concern the way teams like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and the West Indies have stayed below par over such a long period of time and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel for them in the near future. It’s important that good heads come together to assess the issues plaguing them.”