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    Bangladesh lose final but win hearts

    Mirpur: The wait was almost over, but for two runs in the end. Bangladesh - who dreamt of filling their trophy cabinet with their first silverware in international cricket - will feel the hollow. It will take days, perhaps months, for their cricketers to come out of this Asia Cup loss. But the Bangladesh tigers haven't let their nation down and went down fighting until the last ball was bowled.

    First they beat Sri Lanka and then killed another giant in the form of World Champions India, and even in the two games they went down to Pakistan, including the final, they came agonisingly close. So coming out as second best in a tournament that included the World Cup winners, World Cup finalists and World Cup semi-finalists is no mean feat.

    And Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim echoed those sentiments, while ruing the loss of crucial wickets in the final.

    "Before the tournament, we had great preparation. The boys stuck to the plans. We played good in the tournament, I thought. But the wickets of Shakib and Tamim were the turning point tonight," the Bangladesh skipper said after losing the final in a last-ball cliffhanger.

    "The wicket is a bit slowish; it's not easy to score runs. Tamim and Shakib played well. We gave away some runs in the last over [of Pakistan innings]; that was crucial.

    "It's been a great tournament for Shakib, Tamim, Mashrafe, Razzak and Nasir. We fought in all the games and we achieved a lot in this tournament," Rahim added.

    While Tamim Iqbal, who was originally not included in the squad, hit four consecutive half-centuries, Shakib was Rahim's go-to man throughout the tournament, both while batting and bowling. And quite deservingly, the former World No. 1 allrounder was named the Man of the Series.

    "If we look at the overall tournament, we were terrific," Shakib said after the final, adding, "The teamwork has been terrific. The way the crowd supported us was fantastic too. Hopefully we'll kick on from here," Shakib said.

    The last sentence there by Shakib is actually key to how Bangladesh go from this magnificent performance.

    "If I had scored two more runs, we would have won the game. We came so close to win the Asia Cup. We'll take the positives from this series and move on from there," he said.

    Meanwhile, the moment was no way a small feat for Pakistan, who clinched their second Asia Cup title after a hiatus of 12 years. It was not only a winning start for their new coach Dav Whatmore but also a moment to cherish for a relatively young team that is trying to bury the spot-fixing ghost.

    "Wonderful victory, well fought by all guys. The youngsters came in and contributed well. Hammad Azam played well, Sarfraz's innings was a vital one for us. It was a good team effort," skipper Misbah-ul-Haq said.

    "This wicket was a little different from the other ones; it was slow. We were hoping that around 225-230 would be a fighting score. The spinners bowled very well. The pacers did well in the end," an ecstatic Misbah said.

    Bangladesh's performance won many hearts, including in their rival camp.

    "Bangladesh played wonderfully well. This is really a new Bangladesh team and they are really the winners," Misbah lauded.

    Shahid Afridi, too, was all praise for his neighbours. "Bangladesh really played well; they played awesome cricket. They always surprise and give a tough time to the top teams. The credit goes to guys like Shakib and Nasir; they really played some good cricket.

    After this superb show, all Bangladesh will want is consistency coming into their game, which will stamp their entry into the league of big men.