In an Asia Cup ‘Super 4’ encounter that had no bearing on the tournament’s outcome, India’s bench strength faced a stern test from Bangladesh, resulting in India’s first loss to Bangladesh in the Asia Cup since 2012. Chasing a target of 266 runs for victory, India was bowled out for 259 in 49.5 overs in a match that showcased the challenges of adapting to unfamiliar conditions.
The standout performer for India in this match was Shubman Gill, who played a magnificent innings of 121 off 133 balls. Gill’s exceptional timing, precise shot selection, and remarkable strokeplay made the slow and turning pitch seem inconsequential at the R Premadasa Stadium. His superb innings had Bangladesh feeling the pressure despite their earlier total of 265/8, which was built on the back of impressive half-centuries from skipper Shakib Al Hasan (80 off 85 balls) and Towhid Hridoy (54 off 81 balls).
Despite the inconsequential nature of the match as India had already secured a place in the final against Sri Lanka, Captain Rohit Sharma made five changes in the playing XI. Rohit aimed to provide valuable game time to his team members while keeping the bigger picture in mind. Among the notable inclusions were debutant Tilak Varma and middle-order reserve batter Suryakumar Yadav.
Shubman Gill’s innings displayed his exceptional talent, characterized by precise footwork, which allowed him to reach the pitch of the ball and execute lofted shots with elegance. However, as Gill held the fort and India appeared to be in a strong position, the dynamics of the match took a turn.
Bangladesh’s bowler Mahedi Hasan changed the game by coming over the stumps and delivering slower, wider deliveries, forcing Gill to reach for the ball. This tactical adjustment paid off, as Gill, after playing a sensational solo, hit a delivery straight to Hridoy at long-off. Gill’s departure left India with a challenging equation of needing 57 runs from 39 balls.
Following Gill’s exit, Axar Patel exhibited his batting prowess by scoring a valuable 34-ball 42. Patel’s innings brought India within 12 runs of victory with just nine balls remaining. However, a well-disguised slower delivery by Mustafizur Rahman resulted in Patel holing out to Tanzid at long-off. India was eventually bowled out for 259, securing Bangladesh’s first victory over India in the Asia Cup since 2012.
The Premadasa Stadium in Colombo is known for its challenges when chasing scores above 265 runs. Successful chases have been a rarity at this venue, with teams managing to do so only five times, while experiencing disappointment on 38 occasions. India’s pursuit of the target ended as the 39th unsuccessful chase at the Premadasa.
Despite the match being a dead rubber, with India already having secured a place in the final, Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bowl. His decision aimed to provide India with the experience of chasing under lights in Colombo, a situation they hadn’t encountered before.
However, India’s early struggles in the match saw them at 17/2 after both Rohit Sharma and debutant Tilak Varma fell early. KL Rahul added 57 runs for the third wicket with Gill, but the introduction of spin allowed Bangladesh to apply pressure. With tight fielding inside the 30-yard circle, singles became scarce, frustrating the Indian batsmen.
Ishan Kishan also found it challenging to cope with the off-spinners Mahedi and Mehidy Hasan Miraj. Suryakumar Yadav, too, had a tough outing, struggling against the spinners and falling for a modest 26 runs. The collective challenges faced by the Indian batsmen against the Bangladesh spinners were evident throughout the innings.
In a match that provided opportunities for India’s bench strength to gain experience, Bangladesh emerged victorious, marking their first Asia Cup win against India since 2012. Shubman Gill’s exceptional century and Axar Patel’s late surge showcased the talent within the Indian squad. However, the challenges posed by Bangladesh’s spinners and the unique conditions at the Premadasa Stadium contributed to India’s defeat. As India prepares for the final against Sri Lanka, the lessons learned from this match will likely play a crucial role in their approach to the championship clash.