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Unbeaten in the tournament so far, India have seem virtually unstoppable in the Asia Cup so far and are heavy favourites to win the final.
However T20 cricket is unpredictable and hosts Bangladesh will be hopeful of catching India by surprise at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium to avenge their earlier defeat to India in the competition.
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Bangladesh are hoping to cause a major upset in the Asia Cup final in Dhaka on Sunday by spoiling favourites India’s preparations for the World Twenty20, which starts next week.
Top-ranked India crushed Bangladesh by 45 runs in the opening match of the tournament, but the hosts have since executed a turnaround, winning three matches on the trot to qualify for the final.
Bangladesh’s five-wicket win over Pakistan on Wednesday, watched by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from a packed gallery, sparked jubilation in the cricket-mad nation.
“Any good team, if they are the home team, they will always know the conditions very well. So to beat a home team is always difficult,” Indian captain MS Dhoni told reporters.
“Also Bangladesh, over the years has developed a lot. They have improved their strength,” said the skipper,
predicting: “It will be a good final.”
Dhoni’s side, the pre-tournament favourites, defeated the UAE by nine wickets on Thursday to end the league phase with a 100 percent success rate.
India — who have won nine of their last 10 Twenty20 internationals — will start the final as favourites, but Dhoni said nothing could be taken for granted, especially in the shortest format of international cricket.
His side are five-times winners of the Asia Cup, which takes place every two years, although India’s winning meets were all held in the previous 50-over one-day international format.
“In this format the difference between the two teams can often be just one knock, one individual having a very good day or one bowler having a very good day,” Dhoni said.
“The difference between a good team and not-so-good team can be just a performance on that particular day.”
Dhoni, whose illustrious trophy case includes one Asia Cup from 2010, would like to end the 12-day meet on a high before India hosts the World Cup T20 Championship starting on March 8.
Hosts Bangladesh have qualified for the Asia Cup final only once in 2012, when they lost to Pakistan at home by just two runs.
“For us it’s obvious to be emotional because we don’t always get such chances and this is happening at home,” Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said.
Clashes broke out Saturday between police and hundreds of fans queuing for tickets, local Bangladesh media reported.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the fans, according to the online edition of Prothom Alo, a Bengali-language daily.
Earlier, paceman Taskin Ahmed had appeared determined to make India’s job difficult in Sunday’s match.
“India without a doubt is one of the best teams in the world,” Taskin told reporters in Dhaka on Thursday.
“But if we can play up to our potential, good things are possible. I would say it’s a 50-50 game.”
Indian team director Ravi Shastri said that a boisterous crowd would not be a problem for his side in the final.
“We’re used to noise,” Shastri said on Saturday. “Who cares? When you play at that level, you are immune to that.”
The hosts, 2-0 victors at home to England and in India in their last two series, were up against it in pursuit of 157 for nine this time – until Miller took over with an unbeaten 53 from 35 balls.
The left-hander turned the momentum with two big sixes in three balls, off Andrew Tye in the 16th over – and he duly put South Africa 1-0 up, with three wickets and four balls to spare.
Australia, who chose to bat, threatened a much bigger total – especially when opener Aaron Finch was clubbing the first three balls of JP Duminy’s over for successive sixes in a powerplay which finished with the tourists blazing away on 69 for one.
It was Imran Tahir (three for 21) and David Wiese who then did most to stall the Aussies.
The leg-spinner struck the biggest blow with his very first delivery when Finch hit a low full-toss into the hands of deep midwicket to depart for 40 off just 18 balls.
Mitch Marsh’s late hitting nonetheless ensured a testing target, and South Africa’s reply suffered an instant setback when AB de Villiers followed some Nathan Coulter-Nile outswing to be caught-behind off the first ball of the innings.
Coulter-Nile (three for 29) also got rid of South Africa’s other dangerous opener Quinton de Kock, caught and bowled playing early across a cutter.
Captain Faf du Plessis tried to get his team back on track, but his was the second of two wickets in as many deliveries after he called Miller through for a single off the mark and could not beat debutant wicketkeeper Peter Nevill’s throw.
South Africa’s long line-up of big hitters still kept them in the contest, however, and Miller bailed them out.