Tilak, Gaikwad and spinners fire India into Asian Games final

India 97 for 1 (Tilak 55*, Gaikwad 40*) beat Bangladesh (Ali 24*, Sai Kishore 3-12, Washington 2-15) by nine wickets

India’s spin attack restricted Bangladesh to 96 before Tilak Varma blazed away to a 25-ball half-century, supported ably by skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad, as they thumped Bangladesh by nine wickets to seal a berth in the final of the men’s cricket competition at the Asian Games.

India’s run-chase got off to a wobbly start with Yashasvi Jaiswal being dismissed by Ripon Mondol for a duck in the first over. Gaikwad, though, took over the mantle almost instantly, hitting the last ball of that over for four. In the third over, the India captain took down Mondol, smashing two fours and two sixes en route a 21-run over.

Tilak came into his own thereafter and found the fence regularly. Mrittunjoy Chowdhury was the first to face his wrath, being pounded for consecutive sixes in the fourth over. Rakibul Hasan was then taken for a four and a six in the fifth over as India and Tilak flexed their muscles, ransacking 68 runs in the powerplay. Tilak hit two more sixes and got to his fifty off 25 balls – his second half-century in nine T20I innings.

Earlier in the day, India’s spinners ruled the roost after inviting Bangladesh to bat. They accounted for eight of the nine wickets that fell, ultimately keeping Bangladesh’s score down to 96.

Arshdeep Singh, India’s solitary front-line pacer, set the tone at the start, getting the ball to move both ways and inducing several false strokes. Parvez Hossain Emon did hit Shivam Dube for a six in the second over but Bangladesh could not follow that up with more boundaries in the powerplay.

India’s early pressure paid off in the fifth over. Mahmudul Hasan Joy tried to hoick R Sai Kishore over his head but only managed to shank it to mid-on. An over later, Washington Sundar, who bowled sparingly in India’s quarter-final victory, struck twice. Saif Hassan was the first to depart, spooning a catch to deep backward square, before Zakir Hasan nicked through to Jaiswal at slip.

Afif Hossain and Emon tried resurrecting the innings but found the going tough. A lack of strike rotation meant that the latter felt the urge to look for boundaries. He perished in that endeavour, with Tilak the beneficiary.

India kept chipping away and rarely allowed the Bangladesh batters freebies to break the shackles. Sai Kishore bagged a three-wicket haul, with Arshdeep, Tilak, Ravi Bishnoi and debutant Shahbaz Ahmed picking up a wicket apiece.

There were brief spurts of Bangladesh momentum, notably when Rakibul hit his first three balls for 14 runs but that was very much an aberration as India kept them down to 96.

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