India beat Bangladesh in the opening match of the Asia Cup T20 2016 © AFP
India beat Bangladesh in the opening match of the Asia Cup T20 2016 © AFP

A seemingly unstoppable India will take on the vastly improved Bangladesh in the final of Asia Cup T20 2016 at Mirpur on Sunday. This is a rematch of the opening encounter of the Asia Cup, where India blasted past Bangladesh en route to a 45-run win. The architect of India’s victory in that match, Rohit Sharma, has had a couple of lean matches but kicked back into form with a free-flowing 39 in a low-scoring match against UAE. With Virat Kohli in prime form and Yuvraj Singh coming into his own as well, India’s batting line-up looks more threatening as it has in a long time. Live Cricket Scorecard: India vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup T20 2016 Final at Mirpur

India have earned some hard-fought wins, with the batsmen having to struggle through in most matches. Rohit and Kohli have led the way, but Suresh Raina and Yuvraj too have played their parts. However, what has stood out about India’s performance in this tournament has been their bowling. None of India’s bowlers have more than 10 wickets, with Hardik Pandya leading the way with 7 wickets. Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah have 5 wickets each, while Ravichandran Ashwin has 3. READ: From ICC World T20 2014 to Asia Cup 2016, life has come a full circle for Yuvraj Singh

And yet, the Indian bowling has restricted their opposition to scores of 121, 83, 138, and 81. Pandya has been the standout performer for India, his 7 wickets coming at a superb economy rate of 4.68 and an unbelievable average of 9.71. Bumrah’s 5 wickets have come at 5.40 runs per over and an average of 16.20, while Nehra’s 5 wickets have come at 6 runs per over and an average of 13.20. As a result India have gone mostly unchallenged, with the sole exception being Mohammad Aamer’s dynamite four-over spell. READ: Mohammad Aamer’s sensational spell against India in Asia Cup 2016 rekindles memories of Wahab Riaz vs Shane Watson in World Cup 2015

On the other hand, Bangladesh managed to hold their own against their senior opponents Sri Lanka and Pakistan. That Bangladesh have improved drastically in One Day Internationals (ODIs) over the last year is unquestionable, but their Twenty20 International (T20I) record was still suspect. They have managed to remedy that in this tournament. Both Sri Lanka and Pakistan have their drawbacks though, and Bangladesh faltered against by far the best team on display, India. READ: Hardik Pandya is proving himself an ideal all-rounder for India in T20Is

Bangladesh will feel quietly confident though. Apart from possibly the entirety of Bangladesh supporting them, they will also feel that they have hit their groove well. Taskin Ahmed and Al-Amin Hossain have been excellent for them with the new ball. Sabbir Rahman and Mahmudullah have put in vital contributions with the bat as well. Soumya Sarkar, Mohammad Mithun, and Shakib Al Hasan have also performed in patches. READ: India vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup T20 2016 final: Visitors’ bowlers face tough challenge

India had given a chance to their benched players Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar all of whom performed admirably. However, it is unlikely that they will retain their spots, with Nehra, Ashwin, and Ravindra Jadeja expected to return. That said, MS Dhoni could throw a curve ball and keep them in as further match practice. On the other hand, Bangladesh will probably go in with the same team that beat Pakistan.

India are certainly the team with momentum, but it is hard to call them favourites to lift the trophy. Bangladesh are in with an excellent chance to go all the way and win their very first Asia Cup title. India will be looking to keep their win record this Asia Cup intact, while Bangladesh will draw confidence from their 2-1 ODI series victory over India last year. The final promises to be an engaging contest between the two best sides of the tournament.

Squads:

India: MS Dhoni (c & wk), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ashish Nehra, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi.

Bangladesh: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mohammad Mithun, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah Riyad, Nasir Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Arafat Sunny, Tamim Iqbal, Al-Amin Hossain, Taskin Ahmed and Abu Hider.

Time: 19:00 IST | 19:30 local | 13:30 GMT

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is an animal lover and comic, film and TV geek. A fast bowler at heart, he enjoys watching a good, low-scoring game of cricket. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)