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Asia Cup victory does not cover up middle order cracks, says VVS Laxman

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Asia Cup victory does not cover up middle order cracks, says VVS Laxman

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SportsCafe Desk

09/30/2018

VVS Laxman has stated that the mistakes that the Indian middle order are facing at the moment are still glaring and will not be covered up by India’s recent Asia cup victory. India defeated Bangladesh in a last-ball encounter at the Dubai International Stadium in the Asia Cup final on Friday.

After the first innings of the final of the Asia Cup 2018, India were favourites to chase down an average total of 223 runs. However, a fighting performance from Bangladesh saw the match decided in the last ball. This was not the first time in the Asia Cup the India middle order was not able to finish the game. Just one match ago against Afghanistan, Indian middle order was not able to complete the chase after a good start from the openers and the match eventually ended in a tie. Laxman also felt the same and pointed out that despite India's Asia Cup title victory, the cracks in the Indian middle order were there for all to see. 

"India's triumph, however, will not paper over the cracks that continue to exist. Over the last 18 months, the settled top-three of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar DhawanandVirat Kohli has been doing the bulk of the scoring, which is what you would want in ODI cricket. Invariably, one of them has batted deep into the innings and got the job done. But on the odd occasion when the middle-order has been required to apply the finishing touches, it hasn't exactly fired on all cylinders. Friday night was another instance of taking a regulation chase all the way down to the wire," Laxman wrote in his column for TOI.

"The experienced middle-order pair was prevented from rotating the strike freely, and while the required rate never got out of hand, the pressure was slowly building. Both men got out after getting their eye in with the target some distance away, MS probably suffering a rare lapse in concentration owing maybe to Kedar Jadhav's hamstring injury. Fortunately, the calmness of Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar bailed India out, and a limping Kedar boldly returned to apply the finishing touches. There was, though, no way the match should have gone to the final delivery, not when India needed 140 more in 200 deliveries with seven wickets standing when Rohit was dismissed."

After Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan were left out of the team for injury concerns, it was too much of an ask for Bangladesh to put up any sort of fight against India in the tournament finale. However, Liton Das rose to the occasion to score his first international century and thus led Bangladesh to 223 and after that, the bowlers made sure that they pushed India to its very limit. However, it was not a good performance by Team India as the middle-order crumbled under pressure and let the game reach the last ball of the match. Laxman was full of praises for Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza and his bowlers for the fight his side showed. 

"Congratulations to India on an unprecedented seventh Asia Cup title, but how I wish they had not provided so many heart-stopping moments! Congratulations, too, to Bangladesh for having put up a brilliant fight despite the disappointment of a batting meltdown that left them defending a modest total."

"Till such time that Rohit was laying into the Bangladesh bowling, India looked headed for another easy victory. However, the moment the captain was dismissed, there was a visible change in Bangladesh's attitude. Mashrafe Mortaza rang in the bowling changes expertly, like Rohit had done earlier in the afternoon, and his fast bowlers - the outstanding Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Mortaza himself - bowled a relentless stump-to-stump line that tied up Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni.

"Bangladesh have enough time to rue not capitalising on a blistering start, courtesy Liton Das. It was great to see a young man coming off a string of poor scores shedding his inhibitions and batting freely on a big stage. His maiden hundred had put Bangladesh on course for a total of around 260, but I was impressed at how composed Rohit's captaincy was under pressure. Once Bangladesh's middle-order perished through a series of poor strokes and poor running, India squeezed them dry. The match most certainly changed course when Bangladesh lost 10 for 102 to be bowled out for 222," Laxman wrote before signing off.

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