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Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar said Bangladesh served India a great “wake-up call” before the Asia Cup 2023 final against Sri Lanka on Sunday. India, who were the first team to confirm their spot in the final, lost to Bangladesh in the last Super 4 match of the tournament in Colombo on Friday. India rested Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, and Mohammed Siraj to give some game time to the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma and Prasidh Krishna before heading into the World Cup. The move made a lot of sense and the way India started – Bangladesh were 59/4 at one stage – it looked like they would run away with an easy win but Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan (80) and Towhid Hridoy (54) stitched a 111-run stand for the fifth wicket to bring them right back in the contest.
There were useful contributions from the likes of Nasum Ahmed (45 off 44), Mahedi Hasan (29 off 23) and debutant Tanzim Sakib (14 off 8) as Bangladesh posted a highly competitive 265/8 in 50 overs. Considering the nature of the Colombo pitch, many would argue that it was a winning total.
The way Bangladesh started with the new ball – Tanzim dismissed Rohit Sharma for a duck in the second ball of the innings and then sent back fellow debutant Tilak Varma for 5 – 266 certainly seemed like a long way away for India. Shubman Gill and KL Rahul steadied the innings with a decent 57-run stand before the latter was dismissed by Mahedi Hasan. Ishan Kishan did not last long as Bangladesh gained the upper hand in the match.
Shakib picked up the crucial wicket of Suryakumar Yadav (26) who was looking good. While wickets continued to tumble at the other end, Gill stood like a rock and continued to keep India in the chase. The right-hander smashed his fifth ODI century as the match went towards a close finish.
Gill and Axar Patel threatened to take the game away from Bangladesh but a rare rush of adrenaline cost Gill his wicket. The right-hander was dismissed after a marathon 121-run knock. Axar tried his best to take India but multiple injuries halted his proceeding and he was out in the penultimate over. Bangladesh won the match by six runs to end the tournament on a high. Akhtar said this was a great wake-up call for India who need to be at their best if they want to win the Asia Cup for a record-extending eighth time.
“We were not expecting that India would lose to a team like Bangladesh but they did. It was an embarrassing defeat. Pakistan lost to Sri Lanka. They are out of the Asia Cup, which is an even bigger embarrassment. India are still in the final. All is not lost for them. It was a great wakeup call for them to come back harder and make sure they secure victory in the finals but that will only happen if they play really well. Ye khala ji ka ghar nahi hai jaha pe India jake araam se jeet legal. Nothing of that sort is going to happen. It’s going to be a tough game.
“Sri Lanka is out there to beat India. And going into the World Cup, it could be anybody’s game. India need to wake up. They lost to Bangladesh,” he said on his YouTube channel. In the Super 4 match that took place between the two sides, India had beaten Sri Lanka by 41 runs.
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