Dhoni’s boys looking to seal final berth by beating Bangladesh in Asia Cup on Friday

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni couldn’t have asked for anything better than a match against Bangladesh after a 50-run win against Sri Lanka to seal a berth in the final of Asia Cup before the high-tension India-Pakistan match on Sunday, writes The Times Of India.

“The team, which looked tight and tense right through the series Down Under, is now feeling at home. The track and format is to their liking, the batsmen seem to be among among runs and Bangladesh, as hosts, are under immense pressure from their fans to win the game to simply keep themselves alive in this tournament,” says the national daily, adding that India’s targets are now simple: get some momentum going when it comes to winning and if possible, get Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th ton too out of the way in the process.

Meanwhile Indian Express writes that on the batting front, the team ticked most of the boxes in the game against the Lankans. The top-order fired with a century each from Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, while skipper Dhoni and Suresh Raina gave a glimpse of why they are the best finishers in the game. It was, however, the performance of the bowling department that was a real concern.

“Yes, Irfan Pathan and R Vinay Kumar picked up four and three wickets respectively. But they weren’t always consistent with their lines and lengths, relying more on clever change of pace to bag their scalps. Praveen Kumar, on the other hand, didn’t even do that. The last two columns of Praveen’s bowling figures — 0 for 47 — will be the biggest worrying factor for Dhoni going into the Bangladesh match. Praveen was expected to take on the mantle of the leader of this attack in the absence of Zaheer Khan, who was rested for this tournament. He did just that in England, after Zaheer had limped off during the first Test at Lord’s,” says the newspaper.

However Bangladesh won't make it so easy for India as skipper Mushfiqur said that his team had plans in place for Tendulkar. “It's not just about the century. For us to do well we have to counter India's strong batting lineup and Tendulkar is one of their main batsmen,” he said at the pre-match media briefing.

Meanwhile, it was a tale of two mindsets at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium on Wednesday. Pakistan were all charged up and desperate to win while a weary Sri Lanka lacked the intensity. The Lankan batsmen played poor shots and threw their wickets away. Their bowlers were wayward, and fielders dropped catches as Pakistan virtually made it to the final of the Asia Cup.

If India beat Bangladesh on Thursday, fans can look forward to two India-Pakistan games, one on Sunday and Thursday, the day of the final.
On Wednesday, after being bundled out for 188, Sri Lanka had a glimmer of hope when they reduced Pakistan to 33-3, but Pakistan skipper Misbahul-Haq (76 not out off 93 balls) and young Umar Akmal (77 off 72 balls) took charge.

While Misbah was a picture of concentration on a slow track, Akmal looked for the big shots and the runs came at a fair clip. Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene, in his desperation to take wickets, brought the field in but the bowlers didn’t support him.

Other news (TOI, HT, Indian Express, The Hindu)

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