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Bangladesh provoke India with Asia Cup title at stake

Dhoni, Mortaza, Asia Cup Final, India, Bangladesh
MS Dhoni’s team has been on a roll, winning 9 of their last 10 T20Is, which includes an ongoing 6-match unbeaten run.

The Asia Cup, a ten-day showcase of the sub-continent’s Twenty20 prowess, draws to a close with the two teams that set us on our way. Favourites India have duly made the final while hosts Bangladesh have clawed their way past a fancied Pakistan side to possibly script a fairy-tale ending in Mirpur.

Or a grotesque ending if the social media antics of Bangladeshi supporters is taken into account.

A timid tournament so far has suddenly enraged and provoked in equal measure with a morphed photo of Bangladeshi pacer Taskin Ahmed holding a decapitated MS Dhoni’s head, doing the rounds on social media. The response from the Indian contingent has expectedly ranged from anger and disgust to amusement and silence. Fans were universal in their condemnation though, with phrases such as ‘ultimate disrespect’ and ‘it’s not a war’ being branded about. India Team Director Ravi Shastri though refused to be drawn into the controversy by claiming he does not read newspapers.

Bangladeshi fans and the media have a history of spewing vitriol over the Indian side, in a possible attempt to seem on equal footing with their superior neighbours. They cried foul after being knocked out of last year’s 50-over World Cup and a daily also published a caricature of Indian players during an ODI series later in the year. The recent explicit photo may seem rather immature but is par course for a side that craves for greater competition and inclusion as part of world cricket’s elite.

On the field though Bangladesh do stand a fair chance of claiming the Asia Cup title. After defeat to India in the opening T20I, they have beaten Sri Lanka, UAE and Pakistan – in a high-octane game – to earn a place in Sunday’s final. Mashrafe Mortaza has matured tremendously as captain and if Shakib-al-hasan is fit, the stakes are even.

India will start as favourites, but only just. They’re far too experienced to be affected by provocateurs in Bangladesh. If irony had a say, expect MS Dhoni to play a match-winning hand; him hitting the winning runs of Taskin Ahmed is surely in the script?

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