Wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Das finally lived up to the expectations and produced a scintillating knock off 121 off 117 balls against India in the Asia Cup final in Dubai on Friday.
The 23-year old, often regarded as one of the most talented batsmen of young generation, failed to deliver his best in his previous 17 one-day internationals when he could never cross 50-run mark.
The right-hander was heavily criticized for his lack of form during the ongoing Asia Cup where he could make just 61 runs in previous five innings, which included an innings of 41 runs in three-run win over Afghanistan.
His bad patch made Bangladesh suffer in the previous matches, where they did not get a good start on a single occasion, something that left their middle-order batsmen always needing to repair the innings.
Despite his poor form with the bat, the team management kept their faith on him and Liton showed he deserved this chance by hitting his maiden
hundred when it mattered most.
His prolific knock in the all-important match not only silence his critics but also gave Bangladesh something to fight despite a collapse in the middle-order as they reached 222 runs before being bowled out in 48.3 overs.
Both Liton and Bangladesh’s innings could have been bigger if he was not given out in controversial circumstance by third umpire Rod Tucker.
Bangladesh were desperately looking to Liton to carry his innings after they lost five quick wickets to be reduced to 151-5 after Kedar Jadav ended his 120-run opening stand with Mehedi Hasan.
Liton tried to put the pressure back on India scoring 10 off five from Kuldeep Yadav in the 41st over before his controversial out.
Kuldeep beat him with googly and MS Dhoni was quick to break the stump, prompting umpires to refer the matter in upstairs. The replay remained inconclusive but Tucker declared him out, giving
the benefit of doubt surprisingly to the fielding side.
It ended a fine innings inclusive of 12 fours and two sixes, with each stroke showing the class of Liton, often hailed as next big thing in Bangladesh
When he raced to his fifty off 33 balls emulating Tamim Iqbal’s record of quickest half-century against India, skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza urged him from the dressing room to think big and keep the courage.
Liton listened to his skipper perhaps for the first time in the series, which brought many records for him along the way.
With his hundred, Liton became only the fifth cricketer after Marvan Atapattu (2000), Sanath Jayasuriya (2008), Fawad Alam (2014), Lahiru Thirimanne (2014) to score a hundred in the final of an Asia Cup.
His innings was also the highest individual score for a Bangladeshi batsman against India, surpassing Mushfiqur Rahim’s 117 in 2014.
Alok Kapali was the only other Bangladeshi to get a century against India.