India crushed Bangladesh by nine wickets on Friday to power into the gold medal match in Hangzhou as they bid to win the Asian Games title on their first attempt.
Awaiting their young, but still formidable, side in Saturday’s title-decider will be Pakistan or Afghanistan, who meet later.
Twenty20 cricket has been played at the Asian Games twice before, at Guangzhou 2010 and Incheon 2014, with Bangladesh and then Sri Lanka crowned champions.
India did not take part and are at an Asiad for the first time.
“This gives us a lot of confidence because we came together and played as a team, which is very important,” said India bowling hero Sai Kishore, who snared 3-12.
“If we play to our best potential, I think we have a good chance to win the final.”
On an overcast day at the Zhejiang University of Technology Pingfeng Cricket Field, they won the toss and chose to field on a pitch that has been susceptible to spin.
It proved so again, with Bangladesh stumbling to 96-9.
Only three Bangladesh batters made double figures, led by Jaker Ali’s unbeaten 24.
While Bangladesh struggled, India made it look easy, steaming to their target in 9.2 overs for the loss of one wicket. Tilak Varma was 55 not out and skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad unbeaten on 40.
Their chase got off to a horror start with quarter-final century-maker Yashasvi Jaiswal out for a duck in the first over, caught at fine leg.
But fellow opener Gaikwad quickly seized control, plundering 20 from the third over including two consecutives sixes off paceman Ripon Mondol.
Varma got in on the act in the next over, also crashing straight sixes, this time off Mrittunjoy Chowdhury, as they raced to 50-1.
“They batted really well and we could have bowled better. We just didn’t get enough runs on the board,” said Bangladesh captain Saif Hassan.
“We have one more match left (for bronze) and hopefully we can turn it around.”
In contrast to India, Bangladesh found runs hard to come by.
India got the breakthrough in the fifth over with Mahmudul Hasan Joy holing out to Jaiswal at mid-on off Kishore for five.
Most of India’s big names, including Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, are at home for the one-day World Cup, but their squad in Hangzhou still has some top talent.
Spinner Washington Sundar has played all three formats for India and Bangladesh couldn’t cope with his tricky offbreaks.
Hassan and Zakir Hasan were both out in the space of three balls.
Opener Parvez Hossain Emon ground 23 off 32, but he too succumbed to spin, shanking to cover off Varma as Bangladesh crawled to 36-4 in the ninth over.
Gaikwad’s decision to deploy Kishore again paid immediate dividends with Afif Hossain and Shahadat Hossain both out to soft dismissals, before Ali’s late flurry.