September 28, Friday; 17:00 IST
Dubai International Cricket Stadium
Live on Star Sports, streaming on Hotstar
The main picture
The 2018 Asia Cup final couldn’t have had two better teams competing for the trophy. India have comfortably been the best team in the tournament, while Bangladesh have shown character in progressing to the final. That they have done so in the absence of two lynchpins in their line-up, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, speaks volumes about their completeness as a team and, also, Mashrafe Mortaza’s inspired captaincy.
From the tournament’s perspective, the expectation, at the outset, was of an India vs Pakistan final. But Pakistan were let down by their key personnel, while the team selection was questionable at times: Junaid Khan playing only the last Super Four match is a case in point.
India go into Friday’s final as a favourite for multiple reasons. They have played all their matches in Dubai, where the conditions have been to their liking. They were the first team to strike a winning combination and every match apart from their last Super Four match emphasised their superiority over the five other teams.
Bangladesh shook off the seven-wicket defeat to India in their first Super Four match to beat Afghanistan and Pakistan and qualify for the final. Mortaza’s ability to get the best out of the available bowling resources was commendable and one of the contributing factors in beating Pakistan on Wednesday. Mushfiqur Rahim has shown, on more than one occasion, that he has the skillset and temperament to lift the team from difficult situations, while Mustafizur Rahman has regained the zip that had been lacking for a better part of the last 12 months. Bangladesh have a long batting line-up and, with Mahmudullah batting at No. 7, can be particularly dangerous while chasing.
All of which bodes well for a good final, but India have played so well so far that, if they play to their potential, they may well turn the final into another one-sided match.
Pitch report and weather forecast
The pitch here has been on the slower side compared to the one in Abu Dhabi, particularly in the first innings, the slow and dry nature of the pitch aiding the spinners. The ball has skidded onto the bat more in the second innings, under lights, and batting second might well be the way to go.
The weather forecast says that Friday will be sunny, but less humid. The temperature in the evening will be 35 degree Celsius.
Asia Cup final playing XI: India vs Bangladesh
India rested five of their first-choice personnel for the inconsequential fixture against Afghanistan, but the likes of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan should return to the playing XI for the final.
Probable Indian playing XI: 1 Rohit Sharma (c), 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Ambati Rayudu, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Jasprit Bumrah, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Yuzvendra Chahal, 11 Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bangladesh’s top order has contributed little over the course of the five matches so far and this is the biggest concern for them. The changes, if any, will be to the top three, while the rest of the line-up is likely to remain the same.
Probable Bangladesh playing XI: 1 Liton Das, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mohammad Mithun, 6 Imrul Kayes, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Mehidy Hasan, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
The onus is on Bangladesh to raise their game, factoring in that this is the final and they haven’t won against India in over three years, their last three defeats coming in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Nidahas Trophy final and in the Asia Cup Super Four match. Having said so, they have the players who are capable of hurting India, who themselves need to be at their best. We are likely to get a good contest in front of what should be a capacity crowd on a public holiday in the UAE.