Former India batsman VVS Laxman was ecstatic after India won a fighting final against Bangladesh in the recently concluded Asia Cup 2018.
In his column for the Times of India, Laxman wrote, "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."
However, he also pointed out that the middle order crisis for the Indian team was out in open for opposition teams 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 Dhawan and Virat 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 added.
"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," Laxman opined about Mashrafe Mortaza’s captaincy.
Laxman reiterated that India should have finished the Asia Cup final early and said, "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.”
“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 signed off by praising Liton Das.
(with Times of India inputs)