Many cricket pundits and commentators termed this Asia cup as boring and as ‘yet another subcontinent tournament’. The only highlight for many before the tournament started was the clash between India and Pakistan after a year. However Bangladesh turned things around and sent India and Sri Lanka packing and gave this tournament a new meaning.
This tournament has actually sent a clear message to team India. Batting alone cannot win your tournaments consistently. Pakistan and Bangladesh with far less arsenal in their batting appeared to be strong because of their bowling. Pakistan once again proved how good bowling can be the difference between winning and losing a close match. In the match between India and Banladesh, (initially chasing 290) Bangladesh needed 46 of the last 5 overs with 6 wickets in hand; in the finals (initially chasing 236) Bangladesh needed 47 from the last overs with 5 wickets in hand. However Pakistani bowlers highlighted the short comings of the Indian bowling attack. The spinners in Ajmal, Afridi and Hafeez restricted Bangladesh and got important breakthroughs, and Gul and Cheema consistently bowled at speeds over 145 kmph. It is not just the speeds but they bowled yorkers at will. With 9 needed from 6 balls Cheema kept his cool and got his team through. However Pakistan cannot be happy with the way things went, they are yet to score big against a good bowling team, as 320 against an Indian bowling is nothing to boast about, even a half good bowling attack is making the life difficult for the Pakistani batsmen, it is their bowlers who are winning them the matches. In ODIs the short comings of Pakistan team will be evident whenever they played against a top bowling attack, like the English attack, where the English team completely dominated the Pakistan team. If Pakistan want to win big tournaments regularly they need to beef up their batting.
However the Indian pace battery which finds it very difficult to cross the 125 kmph barrier, fed the Bangladesh players with lollipops right throughout the chase. There is no future for Indian ODI as well as test team unless they find genuine world class bowlers. It need not be pace bowlers alone, world class spinners can win matches, but sadly India is not finding/nurturing even spin bowlers. The pitches are so docile that it is not helping both the pacers and spinners. A good surface is important for spinners because on batting surfaces the bowlers will not experiment or develop their variations, instead they focus on restricting runs and if this becomes a norm, then we can only develop bowlers who on their good day can finish with 2- 40 from 10 overs, however such performances cannot win you matches. Harbhajan got in to that mode and now Ashwin is well on his way to become that containing bowler. Such a bowler is needed for a every team, but such a role is performed by bowlers like Hafeez, Afridi, Mahamadulla, Dilshan, David Hussey and so on. Such an approach by a strike bowler is definitely not approachable. There is no way India can reach the number one position in tests and ODIs with such a thin bowling attack for sure.
Now coming back to the tournament, this win will add to the confidence of the rebuilding Pakistan team. Misbah, with his calmness and a risk free leadership is molding the unpredictable Pakistan team in to a consistent team. If new batting talent comes in, then this team can become world beaters in no time. As far as Bangladesh goes, Shakib-Tamim-Mushfiqur will be the nucleus around which a strong team will form and we can expect consistency from a Bangladesh team finally.