An in form Bangladesh team will face Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup 2012 on Thursday March 22 after another fantastic win for the home team over a struggling Sri Lanka. It is the first time Bangladesh have reached the final of the Asia Cup or any major tournament for that matter.
For a team that was surrounded by controversy about selection before the tournament started , they have done extremely well to come up with some exceptional performances. The player in question, Tamim Iqbal, has not only justified his position in the team but has also been a crucial factor in the teams consistent showing in the tournament. He has scored fifties in each of his three outings and is currently third on the list of leading run scorers in the tournament(193 runs at 64.33). To say Bangladesh have had a good tournament would be an understatement. To say that they are playing the best cricket of their lives would be more close to the mark and under Aussie coach Stuart Law they seem to believe they can go one step further and lift the Asia cup. They have so far beaten two Test playing nations and came close to beating a third. Their batting has looked brilliant with everyone contributing and the bowlers too have done their job to the best of their abilities. They have looked like the team of the tournament and would definitely go into the final with a lot of confidence.
Pakistan on the other hand have not really taken the world by storm in this tournament, and despite the fact that they were the first team to reach the final, they haven’t played to the best of their abilities. They narrowly beat Bangladesh in the tournament opener, thanks to Umar Gul’s heroics and although they came up with a clinical win against Sri Lanka, they were given a spanking by India in their last league game. They will come into the final with that loss at the back of their minds and the knowledge that they are up against a team high on confidence. Their batting did look good against India as they amassed 329. It was their bowling that lacked teeth and even though Saeed Ajmal did cause a few problems they didn’t really exert any control over the Indian batsmen. Shahid Afridi has really been a disappointment for Pakistan as he has failed to show any kind of bowling form( 2 wickets at 69.50). It will be their bowling that will be the worry as Bangladesh have shown they are pretty good at chasing having chased in all their games so far. Pakistan may look to break that sequence and ask Bangladesh to bat first in case they win the toss.
Although Pakistan do start as favourites they will be wary of Bangladesh given the kind of form they are in. Bangladesh on the other hand should continue to play the fearless cricket that has brought them this far and will go into the final having nothing to lose. If they do go into the game harbouring too many expectations it may just backfire. Their best bet would be to enjoy the moment and be proud of what they have achieved in this tournament.
Key Players-Bangladesh-Tamim Iqbal has had a fantastic tournament so far with fifties in all three of his outings. He would look to continue in the same vein and get Bangladesh off to a rollicking start in their first ever Asia Cup final.
Shahid Afridi has had a forgettable tournament so far, but is known to be a big match player. If he gets it right with the ball Bangladesh might find it difficult to make it three wins in a row.
Teams-Pakistan(probable)-1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Umar Akmal(wk), 5 Misbah ul haq(c), 6 Hammad Azam, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Umar Gul, 9 Wahab Riaz/Asad Shafiq, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Aizaz Cheema
Bangladesh(probable)-1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Nazimuddin, 3 Jahurul Islam, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim(c & wk), 5 Shakib al Hasan, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Shahadat Hossain,11 Nazmul Hossain
Match starts at 1.30 PM IST on Thursday March 22