With Sri Lanka and Hong Kong knocked out following the culmination of the group stage, four teams remain in contention for the continent’s top crown.
With no rooms for error left for the remaining four teams anymore, we look at the talking points ahead of the Super Four opener.
INJURIES ROCK INDIA
India might have kept a perfect slate in the group stages with two wins out of two against Hong Kong and Pakistan, but it has come at a big cost. Already without the services of their talismanic skipper Virat Kohli for the tournament, India have now lost Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur and Axar Patel to injuries.
The three injured players have been replaced by Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar and Siddarth Kaul who flew to Dubai on Thursday to join the team. While Thakur and Patel did not feature in India’s win over Pakistan on Wednesday, Pandya did and his replacement Jadeja will be expected to get match ready just one day into his arrival at Dubai.
It will be interesting to see how Rohit Sharma and his men deal with these late and unexpected upheavals on Friday against the Tigers.
NO REST FOR THE TIGERS
While India have to deal with the late change in personnel, Bangladesh have a headache of their own. Less than 24 hours after taking on Afghanistan at Abu Dhabi in their final group clash, Mashrafe Mortaza and his men will have to take the field against India at Dubai.
While the travel time between the two cities is not much, it will still be an arduous task for the Tigers given the lack of down time between the two matches. It is no wonder then that Mortaza has slammed the scheduling of the tournament, especially with regards to India having the luxury of playing all their Super Four games at Dubai.
What’s more, the Tigers fielded a strong playing XI against Afghanistan on Thursday despite the game being a dead rubber. Only two players – Mushfiqur Rahim and Mustafizur Rahman – were granted a rest and that decision could backfire for the side given the heat and humidity currently prevailing over the UAE at the moment.
CHANCE FOR BANGLADESH TO AVENGE NIDAHAS LOSS
The last time these two teams met, Dinesh Karthik’s last-ball six broke Bangla hearts and clinched the Nidahas T20 tri-series for India at Colombo in March this year. The two teams have been fairly well matched in the ODI format in recent times with India going on to win three of the last five encounters while Bangladesh have triumphed twice.
The last ODI meeting between the two sides came in the ICC Champions Trophy in England last year with India prevailing handsomely by nine wickets at Birmingham.
India are the No2 ranked ODI outfit in the world currently while the Tigers have improved significantly in limited-overs cricket over the past few years. Bangladesh recently triumphed in the away ODI series against the West Indies and were mighty impressive in their group stage win over Sri Lanka. As such, it will not be an easy task for Rohit’s men who were highly unconvincing in their win over Hong Kong.
BANGLADESH: Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Shakib Al Hasan, Mohammad Mithun, Mushfique Rahim (wk), Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehidy Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman.
INDIA: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah.
VENUE: Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
TIME: 15:30 GST
It seems like playing two back-to-back matches in the Asia Cup has taken its toll on India, with Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Shardul Thakur being ruled out of the competition due to various injuries.
The trio have been replaced by Ravindra Jadeja, Deepak Chahar and Siddarth Kaul. All-rounder Pandya was ruled out of the tournament after sustaining an acute back injury during India’s win over arch-rivals Pakistan on Wednesday.
Pandya had to be stretchered off the field after going down in a heap while bowling. His place has been taken by Jadeja, who put in a good individual display in the final Test against England earlier this month.
Spinner Patel also sustained an injury in the same match while fielding and scans have revealed that he has a torn tendon in his bowling-arm index finger.
NEWS: Hardik, Axar & Shardul ruled out of #AsiaCup2018— BCCI (@BCCI) September 20, 2018
Deepak Chahar, Ravindra Jadeja and Siddharth Kaul named as replacements in the squad. More details here - https://t.co/mG3ggtLtrn pic.twitter.com/HHYR5BcCRx
Pacer Thakur complained of soreness in his right hip and groin after India’s 26-run win over Hong Kong on Tuesday.
The three replacement players are expected to fly in to Dubai on Thursday and this late upheaval will pose a test for the team management given India begin their Super Four-campaign against Bangladesh on Friday.
Test stalwarts Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have been out of favour in the limited-overs setup for some time now with India persisting with wrist-spinners like Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, while Axar provides the finger-spin option.
For Jadeja, it will be a chance to play in his first ODI match for India since February last year when he took the field against the West Indies at Kingston.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed’s decision to bat first after winning the toss at the Dubai International Cricket stadium did not go according to plan with the men in green being bowled out for 162 runs on a slow-paced pitch.
India’s spinners were the stars of the show in the middle-overs with young Kuldeep Yadav once again putting in a solid performance. The left-armed wrist spinner finished with figures of 1-37 from his eight overs. Here, we take a closer look at the bowling performance of the 23-year-old.
OVERS BOWLED: 8
RUNS CONCEDED: 37
The young spinner came on to bowl when Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam were putting together a solid third-wicket stand for Pakistan. Kuldeep was initially taken on by Malik who looked to attack the spinner in order to unsettle his rhythm. After being hit for a big six, Kuldeep struck back by picking up the wicket of a well-set Babar Azam with a ripper of a delivery that gave the batsman no chance. That wicket broke a 82-run stand for the third Pakistan wicket. Thereafter, the wrist spinner was quietly effective with batsman struggling to score runs off him on a slow surface.
Perseverance. Despite Malik taking him on at the start of the spell and depositing him for a couple of big hits, Kuldeep stuck to his strengths by giving his deliveries enough flight and loop and ultimately reaped the rewards with the big wicket of Babar Azam.
After bowling a conventional leg-spinner at the right-handed batsman in the previous delivery, Kuldeep completely outfoxed the Pakistan star by bowling a wrong-one at the same spot. Not anticipating the googly, Babar played for the leg-spin and then could only watch in disbelief as the ball spun past his bat to take the top of off-stump.
When he came on to bowl initially, Kuldeep was a little too eager to try his variations. In his very first over, the youngster bowled four googlies. This tendency let the wrist-spinner become a tad predictable with Malik and Azam having no trouble negotiating him comfortably at the start.
VERDICT – 7/10
For the second match in a row in the Asia Cup, Kuldeep changed the momentum of the match with his wrist-spin. Against Hong Kong, his double blow had put the brakes on Hong Kong’s innings following a 174-run opening stand. On Wednesday, Malik and Azam were threatening to take the game away from India but Kuldeep’s breakthrough put the cat among the pigeons in Pakistan’s batting order as they slumped for 85-2 to 110-6.
That was a collapse the men in green never recovered from with Kuldeep’s undoubted big wicket-taking abilities coming to the fore once again. He might have had a Test series to forget in England but make no mistake, there aren’t any better spinners than the youngster when it comes to limited-overs cricket currently.