Asia Cup | Takeaways: India’s Liton Das offering and Dinesh Karthik’s major mess up

Asia Cup | Takeaways: India’s Liton Das offering and Dinesh Karthik’s major mess up

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India won a record seventh Asia Cup title after beating Bangladesh in a last-ball thriller - a match Bangladesh will not forget for a while. However, the way Liton Das scored his majestic maiden century and Dinesh Karthik’s careless batting made the day an evenly-balanced one.

India's Asia Cup gift to Liton Das 

Liton Das had been in a terrible rut and barring his 41 runs against Afghanistan, he hadn't managed to put up a double digit score in his last five innings. However, he produced one of the finest batting displays in powerplay despite the match-ups indicating otherwise. While he was very effective and confident from the outset, the Indian bowlers were also to blame for allowing to score his first ever ODI ton. 

In the first five overs of the innings, Liton did not face a single delivery that could have gone on to hit the stumps - a fact that showcased India's indiscipline. It was a do-or-die game for Liton and a bad performance today may have seen his career take a major hit. So, he decided to go on the offence right from the off. He attacked 44% of the deliveries he faced in the first 20 overs and didn’t leave a single ball until the 25th over. Most importantly, he was in complete control of his shots, playing and missing just 1.1% of the 117 deliveries he faced. So, it was the Indian bowlers who needed to keep a steady line to put the opener under some pressure. As per Cricviz Data Analysis, the Bangladeshi batsman threw his hands at everything wide of his off stump and straighter balls and he generally preferred to work the ball around and rotate the strike. That was the clue that the Indian bowlers should have picked, but as Liton will attest, they failed. 

Instead of trying to catch him leg-before by keeping a straight line, India kept on experimenting on the off-stump and wide outside the line which allowed Liton to go for flashy drives and square cuts. Yes, it appeared the bowlers were bowling to a tactical plan, but once it became evident that it was not working, why was it not changed mid-way? India did manage to pull the game back in the second part of the innings, but the century will forever be a gift that Liton will cherish.

How Rohit and spinners turned the game around

The way Liton Das and Mehedi Hasan batted in the first 15 overs meant that Bangladesh had taken control of the game. The Indian bowlers looked clueless and Liton’s affinity to play all the balls thrown at him made the day more interesting for the two-time finalists. However, the spinners were instrumental in pulling the game back for India as they shared six wickets between them in the last 28.3 overs. 

It was Kedar Jadhav who struck first dismissing Mehedi with some solid wicket-to-wicket, non-spinning, and ridiculously slow off-break bowling. By the time he ended his first spell, India had claimed four wickets while conceding just 29 runs leaving Bangladesh reeling at 145 for 4 from 116 for 0. However, Rohit Sharma deserves massive credit as well for plotting the Bangladesh downfall.

Chahal was hammered in the Powerplay by Liton Das and had to be removed from the line of fire. But when he was reintroduced, India had already sent Imrul Kayes back to the hut and it was time for India to launch an attack. The Haryana leggie, while bowling googlies, lured the opposition to attack his deliveries which were not in their channel. As a result, the batsmen missed a lot of deliveries which should have been hit. So, instead of giving their innings a final flourish, the period between the 31st and 40th over became a phase where Bangladesh had to do some damage control and in the hindsight, that could be called as the major difference in the game.

Poor shot selection, or DK being DK?

It’s been good two years that India is looking for a stable No. 4 and since the start of 2017, they have fielded eight different players in the No.4 position. Although all of them represent a diverse collection of skill-sets and abilities, only Yuvraj Singh has scored more quickly and lost his wicket more rarely than the average in that time - 44.75 from 9 matches. So, it was a big call for Team India to solve the crisis in the Asia Cup and the absence of Virat Kohli opened up a spot in the middle-order to audition two different batsmen - Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik

While Ambati Rayudu has impressed all and sundry with his patience, selection of strokes and most importantly, the ability to counter both types of bowlers with equal ease, DK had steadied India by playing calmly and at the same time, withstood the frontline Bangladesh bowlers gamely. A half-century was there for the taking and that could have sealed his position as India’s No.4.

However, when you are a master of messing things up, you will find a way to do so. On a low full toss in front of the wicket, which came down at a luring pace, DK was hit on the tip of the boot after missing the flick. It could have been avoided with the usage of the back foot and bringing the ball down with the bat. Strange thing was that he didn’t even try to do that. 

When you have your back against the wall, you can’t do this, DK. A sense of occasion is a thing lesser valued in the sport, but it is very important otherwise.

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