Bangladesh saw their hopes, and the hopes of the entire cricket-crazy country, for their first major tournament championship come up short Sunday when the Tigers fell to a heavily favored India side by eight wickets with seven balls remaining in the Asia Cup T20 final in Dhaka. But the incredible, year-long cricket dream keeps going on Wednesday when Bangladesh opens their T20 World Cup campaign, looking to make their biggest mark yet on the international cricket stage.
The Asia Cup final, shortened to 15 overs per side after heavy rains delayed the start of the match by 90 minutes, and Sher-e-Bangla Stadium was plunged into darkness by what initially appeared to be a power outage, marked only the third time in Bangladesh cricket history that the Tigers played in a tournament championship game. In 2009, they got to the final of the Tri-Nation tournament, and in 2012 made their way to the Asia Cup final, where they lost to Pakistan.
Watch highlights from the Bangladesh vs. India Asia Cup T20 Final in the video below.
But while the apparent power outage turned out to be a deliberate precautionary measure, shutting down stadium lights to prevent an electrical short circuit, Bangladesh suffered a power outage of their own, after India captain M.S. Dhoni won the toss and inserted his rival, who struggled from the start in the difficult conditions.
After the match, Bangladesh T20 Captain Mashrafe Mortaza — who became only the second international captain to go out for a duck in a T20 tournament final — said that his team needed another 20 runs to make a defendable total.
"I think we cannot blame anyone as the wicket was pretty good to bat on in the second half," Mortaza said in his post-match press conference. "Obviously losing the toss was one of the key factors as I felt the pitch was more of a 135-140 wicket in the latter part. I think we were clearly 20 runs short on this wicket and if we could have done that, things would have been different."
In the end, Bangladesh finished with 120, a total tracked down in clinical fashion by the star India partnership of Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kolhi, who combined for 94 before Dhawan was caught out and Dhoni came on to finish the match.
But as national pride in the cricket team runs high in Bangladesh, with the Tigers success since qualifying for their first Cricket World Cup knockout stage almost exactly one year ago seen as a reflection of the country's steady progress toward becoming a developed nation, the team wasted no time in departing for Dharmasala, India, for this year's premier international cricket event.
The team will also sport new, redesigned jerseys for the World T20.
The T20 World Cup starts for Bangladesh on Wednesday, when they take on the Netherlands in the first of their qualifying matches. With eight teams gaining automatic berths in the World T20 group stage due to their rankings on the ICC world points table, Bangladesh must compete for one of two qualifying spots in the tournament.
The quick turnaround, it was revealed, was the reason behind the uncharacteristically quick, green pitches seen throughout the Asia Cup competition — pitches of a sort not often seen on the Indian subcontinent.
An unnamed senior Bangladesh Cricket Board official admitted to The Hindustan Times that the green pitches were deliberately designed to help the Tigers' pace-heavy attack prepare for the World T20.
"We knew there would hardly be any time to test our players, and so the thought was to prepare tracks that would help the bowlers," the anonymous official told the New Delhi-based paper.
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Spinners struggled throughout the Asia Cup, but Bangladesh stars such as Mustafizur Rahman — who was held back in the final due to a reported side strain — Taskin Ahmed and Al-Amin Hossain flourished and should be in good position for the T20 World Cup qualifying round.
[Featured Photo By A.M. Abad/Associated Press]