THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR BANGLADESH?
12:00 AM, September 28, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 28, 2018

THIRD TIME LUCKY FOR BANGLADESH?

Bangladesh will go into today's Asia Cup final against India with some jarring memories from their previous appearances. The Tigers have come leaps and bounds from that gut-wrenching loss to Pakistan in 2012 and were never really expected to win in 2016, a T20 affair. This time around the main problem will be the missing stars in the form of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal. However, the Tigers hope that they can cope with those losses as they did against Pakistan, especially in the absence of India's marquee player Virat Kohli. Here we look back at the previous two finals and also look ahead.

2016: INDIA BEAT BANGLADESH BY EIGHT WICKETS

The second time Bangladesh made the final of the tournament, again at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on home soil, the result was far more straightforward. The tournament had been changed to a 20-over format due to the impending World T20 and that was already a huge setback for Bangladesh, who had taken impressive steps in ODIs but still lacked substance in T20s -- arguably still the case two years later.

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As such, the Tigers could put up only 120 runs on the board. The unbeaten Sabbir Rahman scored 32 off 29 to hold things down before Mahmudullah Riyad blazed his way to an unbeaten 33 off just 13, smiting two fours and as many sixes.

After the exchange, India, a dominant force in the format, cantered home in 13.5 overs. Dhawan departed after scoring 60 off 44 with nine boundaries and a six while Kohli remained not out after a 28-ball 41. Captain and one of the finest T20 players, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, was only required to play a supporting role and he did so in his own inimitable fashion with a seven-ball 20.

If the previous final against Pakistan was the most-closely fought, then this was perhaps the exact opposite and there were no tears this time around. Bangladesh captain Mashrafe simply walked to his counterpart and with a tip of the cap and shake of the hands, he walked back to claim second place for the second time.

2018: A RECORD SIXTH OR HISTORIC FIRST?

While India will be hoping to complete their dominance in Asia by winning a record sixth Asia Cup -- they are currently tied with Sri Lanka on five wins each -- Bangladesh will be hoping to finally add some silverware after years of near-misses.

The Tigers, even without their two stars, are certainly up to the task. Left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman was firing on all cylinders against Pakistan and he was aptly rewarded with four wickets while Mehedi Hasan Miraz's stranglehold over batsmen added immense pressure. Even the part-timers showed up big time and if they can continue to do so and get India's dynamic opening duo of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan early, then it should set up a gripping game.

The batting department has been more lacklustre and much will likely depend on Mushfiqur again, but if he can find a partner in Mohammad Mithun or elsewhere, then the pocket-sized dynamo will certainly be a threat to India's bowling attack.

2012: PAKISTAN BEAT BANGLADESH BY TWO RUNS

The image of Mushfiqur Rahim crying into the arms of a teary-eyed Shakib is deeply embedded into the mind of every cricket-loving Bangladeshi. That was the aftermath of Bangladesh's harshest defeat to date, a two-run loss to Pakistan at the home of Bangladesh cricket.

Pakistan batted first and put up 236 for nine in their allotted overs. Opener Mohammad Hafeez chipped in with an 87-ball 40 and four others scored over 30 runs, including now captain Sarfraz Ahmed's 52-ball 46. Mashrafe, who was then being captained by Mushfiqur, Shakib and Abdur Razzak picked up two wickets each.

In a curious twist of fate, it was Shakib and Tamim that were key for Bangladesh, both hitting half centuries at key points of Bangladesh's innings. Bangladesh were eventually left needing 19 runs off the final two overs with Mahmudullah Riyad and Razzak at the crease and brought that down to nine off the final six balls before falling agonisingly shy in the most intensely-fought Asia Cup final to date. Man of the match Shahid Afridi was chiefly responsible for the heartbreak, scoring a quickfire 32 before suffocating the Tigers with the ball as he gave away just 28 runs in 10 overs.


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