rohit sharma and shikhar dhawan
India will hope their opening pair continues to fire (AFP Photo)

One of the reasons for India’s unbeaten run to the Asia Cup 2018 final has been the sublime form of their top-order batsmen. Opener Shikhar Dhawan with 327 runs in four matches is the tournament’s highest run-getter while India captain Rohit Sharma is the third in the list with 297 runs, boasting an average of 134.50.

After securing their place in the final, courtesy their one-sided win over Pakistan, India rested several of their first-choice players against Afghanistan. Despite a brilliant opening stand between KL Rahul and Ambati Rayudu, India finished on level terms with Afghanistan with the match ending in a tie.

The India middle-order, which has hardly been exposed during the tournament, got its first stern test and failed to get the team over the line. Ahead of the big final against Bangladesh, former India spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan has said India might be concerned on this front.

“India will put out their strongest XI for the final after rightly resting five first-choice players for the game against Afghanistan,” Sivaramakrishnan wrote in his column for The Times of India on Friday. “Ambati Rayudu did his cause no harm at all with a muscular half-century and KL Rahul oozed class on his return to the ODI side, but question marks continue over the middle-order. They were put under pressure for the first time in the tournament, and while they can point to two dodgy decisions, the fact that India failed to get over the line can’t be disputed.”

He praised Bangladesh who showed great resolve in edging Pakistan in a do-or-die clash on Wednesday to seal their final berth. “Bangladesh can take pride in their march to the final of the Asia Cup. Their convincing victory against Pakistan in Wednesday night’s virtual semifinal was testament to their character and depth,” he wrote.

He further added, “Already without Tamim Iqbal, they had also to make do without the versatile and experienced Shakib Al Hasan, and they responded magnificently with old pro Mushfiqur Rahim again in the forefront. Like against Sri Lanka in the league phase, Rahim rallied the batting splendidly alongside Mohammad Mithun, while Mustafizur Rahman chose the perfect night to return to wicket-taking ways.”