A severely hamstrung Kedar Jadhav ran the most defining single of his short international career as India beat Bangladesh by three wickets to win their seventh Asia Cup title in a pulsating last-ball finish.
Chasing a modest target of 222, India made a rough weather of the chase at 160 for five with Jadhav (23 no) initially retiring after pulling his right hamstring only to comeback when it mattered the most.
He came in the 48th over with India still needing 11 runs. With six runs needed off the last over, Jadhav and Kuldeep Yadav kept their cool against Mahmudullah Riyadh taking three singles and double off the first five balls.
The part-time off-spinner drifted the final delivery onto Jadhav’s legs as it brushed his pads for a leg bye to ensure India maintained its supremacy among continental neighbours.
The win also establishes Rohit Sharma’s leadership skills having won the Nidahas T20 tri-nation earlier and now the Asia Cup while providing a healing touch after the Test series drubbing in England.
Buvneshwar Kumar (21) and Ravindra Jadeja (23) also played their part after middle-order led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again failed to perform.
It was Bhuvneshwar’s six off Rubel Hossain in the 46th over followed by a boundary off Mustafizur Rahman in the 47th that eased the pressure put due to the balls consumed by the former India skipper.
India started the chase with Shikhar Dhawan (15) and Rohit Sharma (48, 55 balls) helping themselves to a boundary each off Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s off-break. However tournament’s top scorer Dhawan couldn’t clear the mid-off fielder trying to hoist left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam.
Ambati Rayudu, who ha not performed against the top teams failed again making it 46 for 2.
In-form skipper Rohit continued from where he had left against Pakistan as he lofted Nazmul for a six over long-on. A short-arm pull off Mustafizur Rahman and a hook off Rubel Hossain also got him two more sixes a India were cruising along at 83 for two.
It was another short ball from Rubel that Rohit tried to pull but found the fielder at the square leg boundary.
Dinesh Karthik (37) hit a six but looked edgy during his 61 ball stay before being yorked when Mahmudullah Riyadh rifled one in after 54-run stand with Dhoni (36, 67 balls).
Dhoni is a shadow of his old self and consumed a lot of balls, hitting three boundaries in between. However Kedar Jadhav (19, 20 balls) hit a straight six off Mahmudullah but then pulled his right hamstring going for a quick single.
He was in considerable pain after that and Dhoni who was just getting into the groove lost his rhythm and edged one off Mustafizur Rahman to Mushfiqur Rahim behind the stumps.
Once Dhoni was gone, things became troublesome for India at 160 for five as Kedar continued to hobble.
He was finally instructed to get off the field as his presence was hampering the other batsmen from taking quick singles or twos.
Earlier, India’s unorthodox spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Kedar Jadhav wreaked havoc after opener Liton Das’s fine hundred as Bangladesh were bowled out for a modest 222 after being put in to bat.
An injury-ravaged Bangladesh made a flying start, courtesy Liton’s maiden ODI hundred (121 off 117 balls), as he added 120 runs with fellow opener Mehidy Hasan Miraz (32).
Just when it looked like Bangladesh would make a match of it, things went downhill as India’s tiny neighbours suffered an all-too-familiar batting collapse, losing 10 wickets for 102 runs. The innings lasted 48.3 overs.
Chinaman Kuldeep’s 3 for 45 was well complemented by Kedar’s 2/41 in nine overs of unconventional off-breaks, as Bangladesh frittered away the initiative with poor shot selection.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s smart work behind the stumps also played its part as much as Ravindra Jadeja’s electric fielding inside the 30-yard circle.
Promoting lower-order batsman Miraz as opener was a masterstroke by skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, who wanted to preserve his regular opener Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar.
Miraz did his job perfectly by dropping anchor as Liton hit a flurry of boundaries off Jasprit Bumrah (1/39) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Anything on his legs was dispatched to the boundary.
When Yuzvendra Chahal (1/31 in 8 overs) was introduced, he was hit over deep mid-wicket for a six, as India found it difficult to get a breakthrough.
However, things changed once Miraz was caught by Ambati Rayudu in the cover region off Kedar’s bowling.
The moment Kedar started bowling his side-arm off-breaks, Bangladesh couldn’t force the pace as he mixed his deliveries well. He bowled an impressive 28 dot balls.
Imrul Kayes (2) was adjudged leg-before off Chahal and the in-form Mushfiqur Rahim (2) pulled a rank half-tracker from Kedar straight into the deep mid-wicket’s hands.
From 120 for no loss, Bangladesh slumped to 137 for three and things went from bad to worse from thereon.