Can Bangladesh at least end the Asia Cup on a high note?
India's 41-run win over Sri Lanka in their second Super Four game in Colombo last night has effectively ended Bangladesh's hopes -- the tiniest bit that the Tigers had left after two straight defeats at the business end of the tournament -- of reaching their fourth Asia Cup final.
Bangladesh have managed only one win in this edition of the Asia Cup. After starting with a five-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka, the Tigers bounced back in their last group-stage game against Afghanistan with an 89-run victory that eventually paved their way to the Super Four. The Shakib Al Hasan-led side, however, lost against Pakistan, by seven wickets, and Sri Lanka, by 21 runs, in the Super Four.
Bangladesh still have a game left -- against India in Colombo on September 15. But the outcome of their last Super Four game will now only act as a chance for the Rohit Sharma-led India, who have already booked their place in the final, rest a few of their key starters.
For Bangladesh, it will only serve as an opportunity to end their abysmal Asia Cup, a prelude to the ODI World Cup in India next month, on a decent note. Even if the Tigers manage to win their game against India, they will end up with only two points in the Super Four stage.
The Super Four game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will now act as the unofficial semifinal of the tournament. The winner of the contest between the two co-hosts, who both have two points each, will head to the Asia Cup final.
However, Sri Lanka can still make the final even without a win against Pakistan. Pakistan's net run-rate of -1.892 -- thanks to their 228-run record-margin defeat against arch-rivals India in their last game -- means that even a no-result will see Sri Lanka through with three points and a superior net run-rate over Babar Azam's side.
With how rain has spoiled and interrupted proceedings in the Asia Cup so far, the Lankans will definitely be a step ahead in the contest tomorrow.
Moreover, Pakistan's troubles have only been compounded due to some fresh injury concerns to a pair of key fast bowlers. Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf picked up niggles during their loss to India, with selectors reacting quickly by calling up fellow quicks Shahnawaz Dahani and Zaman Khan for the remainder of the tournament.