Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah, the best thing to happen in T20 for India
The best thing to have happened to Indian T20 cricket recently is the reintroduction of Ashish Nehra and the emergence of Jasprit Bumrah, writes Aakash Chopra
There's a certain amount of inevitability about Virat Kohli remaining unbeaten in a successful chase and Mahendra Singh Dhoni sealing it with a six. That's exactly how it panned out in the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh in Mirpur.
Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah
These 15-over chases are really tricky because it takes only a couple of tight overs for the asking rate to jump alarmingly, and that's why the calmness with which India chased the target in a final must be lauded.
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Kohli's average swells over 80 in successful run chases in T20 Internationals and that tells you how often he finishes games off. He's not the one who'd go for glory and play to the gallery, but someone who's happiest if he's there when the team crossed the line.
India's bowling strength
But before raving about the chase, it's imperative to talk about the bowlers, who managed to restrict the opposition for a manageable 120. The best thing to have happened to Indian T20 cricket recently is the reintroduction of Ashish Nehra and the emergence of Jasprit Bumrah.
While Nehra focuses only on picking wickets in the powerplay overs, Bumrah keeps it extremely tight irrespective of the stage the innings. In the final, Bumrah gave away only 13 runs in the 18 balls he bowled and not to forget that six off those 18 balls were in the last over of the innings.
Both Hardik Pandya and Nehra had bowled really expensive overs and a big finish was almost a given, Mahmudullah was in the middle of an exceptional cameo, but for Bumrah's accuracy. He's bowling yorkers at will and that's a huge asset in the shorter forms of the game.
And if you add Ashwin's spell of 14 runs to Bumrah's exploits, you get six overs conceding only 27 runs. From there, even if the opposition scored at 10 runs an over in the remaining overs, you'd keep the total within your reach.
Dhawan back to form
Asia Cup has been quite harsh on the openers, for they were forced to play a different brand of cricket. The pitches in Mirpur had a little more juice than what we're used to seeing in T20 cricket and that led to almost every team losing two or more wickets in the first six overs.
Dhawan, like many other openers, was also a culprit of assuming that he could plant his front foot and play through the line from the beginning. He tried that in the first two games and was beaten on both occasions.
With two failures and not an impressive T20 record, he had to play an ugly innings in the game against UAE and that got him back on track. There's nothing like game time and even though he managed just 16 then in a 80-run chase, it was enough to get him going again.
It did help that the pitch for the final wasn't offering much to the seamers and the ball also got wet really early in the innings, but it's good for Team India that he's firing again.
Though for his own sake, Dhawan needs to tighten his game further, for he's in a danger of being called a 'flat-track bully' and he's definitely better than that.
It would be unfair to write about the Asia Cup without acknowledging Bangladesh's rise as a T20 team. 2015 was their year in ODI cricket and it was a matter of when and not if in T20 cricket too.
In Mashrafe Mortaza, they've got one of the finest captains in world cricket, in Soumya Sarkar, Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman, they have the batting nucleus and Al-Amin Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman and Taskin Ahmed are keeping their bowling stocks in good shape too.
For the first time Bangladesh cricket has come out of the shadows of their three top cricketers — Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal, and that's the first sign of a team in its ascendancy.
Now, they must become a little more ruthless and find the right spot for their best striker — Mahmadullah. In the final, he came in with only 20 balls left in the innings and that's not enough to leave a lasting impact. If he finds the right spot, I won't be surprised if Bangladesh causes a couple of upsets in the World T20 too.