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15 April 2024

Bangladesh vs India Asia Cup T20 Final: Kohli, Dhoni ignite new rivalry

By Allaam Ousman

Cricket fans around the world always look forward to an India vs Pakistan clash which guarantees high-octane excitement even before the first ball is bowled even though the match itself might turn out to be a damp squib as happened when Pakistan were skittled for 83 in the most recent tie during the Asia Cup.

However, is a new rivalry emerging in world cricket between Asia Cup finalists Bangladesh and India, two populous nations where life comes to a standstill when their teams play cricket.

Tensions have been brimming ever since the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 quarter-final between the two.

It came to boiling point when India toured Bangladesh and Virat Kohli was branded a cheat during the second one-day international.

The incident happened in the second over when Bangladesh were chasing a target of 201.

Tamim Iqbal slashed at a wide delivery from Dhawal Kulkarni and the ball ballooned to Virat Kohli, fielding at mid off. Kohli claimed a catch even as the ball was dying on him.

However, the celebrations of the Indians were shortlived when the on-field umpire Sharfuddoula not convinced, referred it to the third umpire.

There was sufficient doubt in the third umpire’s mind despite the replays suggesting the catch was indeed clean. Tamim was declared not out.

The integrity of Kohli, who has never been accused of playing unfairly, also came into question.

To add insult to injury, Bangladesh went on to win the rain-affected match six wickets under the D/L method.

The series was also sparked by an incident between Indian skipper Dhoni and Bangladesh debutant Mustafizur Rahman in the first ODI.

Chasing a massive target of 308, a frustrated Dhoni was seen pushing a young Mustafizur aside. The push was such that the debutant appeared to be in a state of discomfort after the incident and had to leave the ground temporarily.

Bangladesh went onto record a famous 79-run victory with India being dismissed for 228.

Sunday's Asia Cup final rekindles memories of these two incidents and ignite their rivalry similar to that of an Indo-Pak clash.

Bangladesh, which goes crazy just like cricket-mad India when its team not just wins but performs on home soil with even the country's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina watching cricket, is certainly emerging as forced to be reckoned with by storming into the Asia Cup final with wins over Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

Their only defeat came at the hands of tournament favourites and top-ranked T20 team India who rode on a brilliant half century by Rohit Sharma (83) to win by 45 runs.

But they are no longer minnows of world cricket and play an exciting brand of cricket having explosive batsmen in the calibre of Tamim Iqbal, Sabbir Rahman, Soumya Sarkar and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan though they may lack firepower with Mustafizur Rahman being sidelined with injury.

Bangladesh also thrive on home advantage energised by the crowds whose roar can rise to a crescendo as they back the Tigers to the hilt.

Dhoni will have to keep his cool if India are to pull it off against a fast-rising team who have a swagger about them and playing with a freedom since they have nothing to lose.