India are rightly the red-hot favourites to win the Asia Cup final against Bangladesh on Friday so Jamie Pacheco is looking for a chunkier priced bet by backing their talented left-handed opener to star on the day...
"Your best bet might be to side with Shikhar Dhawan. The tournament’s top runscorer loves a big stage and always seems to find his best form in big tournaments rather than unilateral series. He’ scored 127, 46, 40 and 114 so is obviously at peace with his own game and eyeing up another big score here."
India v Bangladesh
Friday September 28 12:30
India strong in all departments
India are the only unbeaten team at the Asia Cup. But that's not to say they won all their matches. In their last Super 4 match, when they had already qualified, they tied with Afghanistan. Chasing 252, they looked like they'd win as long as Ravi Jadeja was still at the crease. But first they lost a flurry of wickets in the last two overs, then Jadeja pulled things back to get the scores level and then further drama was to ensue when needing just a single off the final ball to win, he skied one up in the air and was caught.
That hiccup aside in what was a dead rubber, they've dominated this tournament. In the absence of the rested Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma has captained the side (MS Dhoni took over when Sharma himself was rested last time out). Alongside fellow opener Shikhar Dhawan (327 runs in four games), Sharma (269) has led from the front. Things are made considerably easier for your team when one or sometimes both of your openers are getting big scores every game.
With the ball, Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah have been the leading wicket-takers, all with seven. The team looks very strong.
Absence of two big stars a concern for Tigers
It's been a mixed tournament for Bangladesh. They suffered heavy defeats to Afghanistan and India but also beat Afghanistan in a tight match before getting the better of Pakistan in a winner-takes-all-contest on Tuesday. That they beat them without the injured Shakib Al-Hasan makes it even more impressive.
For well over a decade he's bailed them out time and time again with either bat or ball so it will have been pleasing that they pulled it off without him. Mushfiqur Rahim was the big star in that match, scoring 99 batting first as they posted 239.
With the ball, it's been Mustafizur Rahman doing the damage. His eight wickets have come at an average of 18.37 and his economy rate reads 4.59.
But as ever, the batting looks a bit flimsy and never too far away from a collapse. It hasn't helped that their best-ever opener in Tamim Iqbal has been absent from the tournament, also injured.
Dubai wicket has a bit for everyone
Seven matches have so far been played in the venue for the final- Dubai- so far this tournament. Four were won by the chasers, two by the team batting first with one producing that tie mentioned already.
250 is about par with anything above 270 probably being a winning score.
It's a wicket with a little bit for everyone in it as far as the bowlers are concerned. Meaning a balanced attack with both pace and spin is advisable.
If you're planning on trading the match on the Exchange, you'll be excited to know that the Tigers start out at [5.4]. If they bat first there's certainly an opportunity there to lay them off ta a shorter price. But if India bat first and Sharma and Dhawan carry on doing what they've done all tournament, that price on the outsiders will just keep on drifting.
Why the seemingly huge price? The first factor is the absence of Bangladesh's two biggest starts- Iqbal and Al-Hasan. Fair enough, they've done without the former all tournament and won their last game without the latter. But the point is they're going to need something special from someone in the final and those are their two most obvious match-winners.
The second factor is that Bangladesh have a bit of an inferiority complex against this lot. Understandable given that on so many occasions they've come so close, including in the T20 format, but not quite gotten over the line. That will certainly be on their minds. India are that price of [1.24] for a reason.
With the dice so heavily loaded in India's favour, it's not so easy to find much value. Your best bet might be to side with Shikhar Dhawan.
The tournament's top runscorer loves a big stage and always seems to find his best form in big tournaments rather than unilateral series. He' scored 127, 46, 40 and 114 so is obviously at peace with his own game and eyeing up another big score here. Sharma is the obvious danger but not only does the left-hander have more runs, he's also a bigger price at 13/5 to Sharma's 23/10 - for top Indian batsman.
That said, if you're going to back him you might as well go with the bigger 4/1 that he's the top match batsman. It's hard to see that in the absence of Bangladesh's two gun batsmen someone else from the Tigers will outscore an Indian batter.