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India wins Asia Cup final in dramatic style on last ball

September 28, 2018
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Indian players and team support staff celebrate with the trophy after winning the Asia Cup final cricket match against Bangladesh, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, early Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — India successfully defended the Asia Cup title in the most dramatic fashion, beating Bangladesh in a last-ball thriller on Friday.

India was chasing a modest target of 223 at Dubai International Stadium, after winning the toss and inviting Bangladesh to bat first.

Despite its batting prowess and wealth of experience, India almost failed to reach that target as the tension reached breaking point.

It was left to a limping Kedar Jadhav to face the final ball with the scores level. He tried to flick it down to the fine leg boundary and failed to do so, but India got a single leg bye and did just enough.

“I am really proud of the team. We played very good cricket throughout the series and this is reward for the hard work,” captain Rohit Sharma said. “Let me not take away any credit from the Bangladesh team because they have been fantastic. They started really well and then bowled very well too.”

India won the tournament for the seventh time, having beaten Bangladesh in the 2016 final — played as a Twenty20 format.

Jadhav was forced to retired hurt with a hamstring injury, but came out again at the fall of the sixth wicket — with India on 212-6 — and finished unbeaten on 23.

Kuldeep Yadav was the other unbeaten batsman, on five, as India reached 223-7 to win by three wickets.

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza felt his side should have cashed in after a good start, but was also proud of the way his side battled to defend a relatively low score.

“After finally getting a good start, we should have scored a lot more. We had a lot of hope from our middle-order, but they failed to deliver this time,” he said. “We bowled well, but we were never really in the match defending that total.”

None of the Indian batsmen reached 50, with Sharma leading with 48. Dinesh Karthik contributed 37 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni scored 36.

The Bangladesh innings was built around a first one day international century by opener Liton Das, who struck and assured 121 featuring 12 fours and two sixes.

He put on 120 runs for the first wicket with surprise opener Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who managed just 32 of them before being caught in the 21st over off Jadhav. After that, the Bangladesh innings faded.

“I thought our spinners did very well in containing them and building the pressure to restrict them to 222,” Sharma said.

Jadhav finished with 2-41 in nine overs, while Yadav got a decent return of 3-45 from 10 overs.

Sharp Indian fielding accounted for three run outs, including the dangerous No. 7 Soumya Sarkar for 33 just as he was looking set for a big score.

Earlier, the fluent Das reached his 50 off 33 balls.

He was then dropped on 52 by Yuzvendra Chahal when he miscued a sweep off Ravindra Jadeja, but was otherwise in control as he reached 100 from 87 balls.

Das was finally stumped by Mahendra Singh Dhoni off Yadav.

It ultimately proved to be the key breakthrough, as Bangladesh fell agonizingly short of its first Asia Cup win after reaching the final for the third time.

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