A well organized Asia Cup that saw much good cricket and ended with a match that had a dream finish and was the perfect advertisement for ODIs. Can one ask for more?

Indeed hats off to Bangladesh! That is the over riding feeling after the Asia Cup final. It is never easy to defend 222 against a strong Indian batting side but Bangladesh almost pulled it off fighting till the very end. Of course one has seen enough of the never-say-die attitude of the Bangladesh players for some time now and Friday provided another such instance. Nothing illustrates this more than the fact that the winning run – a scrambled leg bye – was obtained off the last ball of the 50th over.

The manner in which they struck at the beginning and then kept chipping away at the middle order speaks volumes of the skill of the bowlers. They took wickets at regular intervals, kept the run rate down and put the pressure on the Indians who must have entertained hopes of winning in a canter once they had bowled out Bangladesh for 222. Yes, India won the match but Bangladesh claimed the honours.

If the Asia Cup was a sort of trial run for the World Cup to be held in England next year India by winning it has to be considered one of the leading contenders for the trophy. True, Australia, England, South Africa and New Zealand were missing from the line-up in the UAE but present were four other teams in the top ten in the ICC rankings – Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Also it was clear that the competition in the Asia Cup is hotting up with Bangladesh and Afghanistan showing vast improvement.

So in the ultimate analysis one would like to think that India’s victory was over worthy opposition. They might have struggled a bit along the way but still won five of the six matches the tie against Afghanistan being a result of their own complacent attitude. Sure, there are holes in the side that need to be patched up, particularly in the middle order batting and there must be now a serious question about MS Dhoni’s role but the World Cup is still some months away so hopefully these will be ironed out. There is nothing really to worry however about the top order and the bowling.

While India won the Asia Cup for the seventh time it wouldn’t be incorrect that it was Bangladesh and Afghanistan who won the hearts of cricket fans. Afghanistan are clearly a rising power in Asian cricket while Bangladesh continue to make giant strides. The disappointments were Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Both teams are in a transitional phase and facing a crisis of confidence.

Finally, from the Indian viewpoint other than the obvious batting and bowling successes that were responsible for the victorious campaign there was one more factor that went largely unnoticed. Rohit Sharma’s pro active leadership did a lot for the team’s self belief. He was here, there and everywhere on the field making bowling and fielding changes that were uncannily right. He had the players behind him thanks to the encouragement he gave them. It must not be forgotten that the squad consists of many young players and neither has Rohit. He spent time with them, took them into his confidence and made changes in consultation with them while all along making it clear who was the boss. He was not averse to seeking the views of the seniors and quite often was seen having discussions with Dhoni.

It should be remembered that Rohit was only a stand-in captain; Virat Kohli is the captain in Tests as well as limited overs cricket and it was only because he was rested that Rohit got the job. But his approach was ''right now I am the captain and I have to do my best’’. Captaincy is not a new experience for him. He led India in the three match series against Sri Lanka last year and the contest was won 2-1. Captaincy has not affected his batting. In the second match of the series he smashed the Lankan attack for an unbeaten 208 at Mohali - his third double hundred and there have been only eight such scores in ODIs. Further proof that leading from the front comes naturally to him was seen in the Asia Cup when with successive scores of 23, 52, 83 not out, 111 not out and 48 he ended up heading the averages while striking a highly successful partnership with Shikhar Dhawan.

It’s been quite a metamorphosis from the diffident Rohit that one saw when he led Mumbai Indians for the first time in the IPL. The team also had seniors like Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga and Rohit seemed in awe of them and situations on the field. Not any more. Besides matters of strategy and tactics he is also very good at man management, something very important for a leader. As he outlined his approach in a newspaper interview sometime ago ''you just have to leave the players alone and don’t put too much pressure on them. One needs to give them a free hand, only then will these young cricketers feel comfortable.’’

Kohli is doing a reasonable job but it is heartening to know that Indian cricket has a ready contender for the leadership at any time it is required.