Two runs too far

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    Bangladesh's dream of being crowned Asia Cup champions stayed alive right until the last ball of a pulsating encounter against Pakistan on Thursday. Shahadat Hossain, their No.11 batsman, had arrived at the centre to face the final delivery from Pakistan medium-pacer Aizaz Cheema. Abdur Razzak had just been bowled off the penultimate ball, when four was needed off two.

    Now with Hossain on strike, Bangladesh needed a boundary to win. Cheema found a devastating yorker. The ball rolled to the leg-side for a single. The dream was shattered and grief filled the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium.

    Vice-captain Mahmudullah fell to his knees, Hossain shed tears. Cheema, with three wickets in all, celebrated within a Pakistan team huddle. A weeping captain Mashfiqur Rahim collapsed into the arms of Shakib Al-Hasan, the Man of the Tournament, the only trophy of note a Bangladesh player won.

    Hossain, on the night that seemed destined to end with the hosts winning their first major title after they had restricted Pakistan to 236 for nine, missed out on being remembered for ages in this part of the world.

    It wasn't the only time in the game that he had failed to deliver the goods, as the fast bowler had conceded 19 runs in the last over of the Pakistan innings.

    Nevertheless, there were many a heroic performance by Bangladesh on the day, and indeed throughout the tournament, that will soothe the pain as a consolation prize. Performances that made a nation believe.

    Almost, but not quite

    Shakib, the country's biggest star, played what will be remembered as one of his better knocks — it was a shame that he couldn't finish the job. Nasir Hossain batted with maturity, but at a strike rate of just over 44. Opener Nazimuddin was also guilty of Nasir's offence. These were the men responsible for defeating both India and Sri Lanka earlier in the tournament. But they too failed when it mattered most.

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