“Hence, understandably plenty will be at stake for the defending champions. So, rest assured, in this Asia Cup, there won’t be any sort of complacency or lack of intensity in the Rohit-led Indian team”

They call Dubai ‘the jewel of the desert’. As soon as you land at the airport, you will get the multi-cultural feel of the city. People from more than 200 nationalities live here. For many, it is a land of opportunities. And for the disheartened Indian team following the disastrous tour of England, this city can be a place of redemption (of somewhat) if they manage to defend their Asia Cup title.

Well, the desperation seems evident in their camp.

Initially, the entire Indian team was supposed to reach Dubai on Saturday (September 15), three days prior to their first match on Tuesday (September 18) against Hong Kong. However, all of a sudden the think-tank decided to send 10 members of the side, who were not a part of the Test squad in England couple of days early, in order to ‘get used to the conditions’.

At least, that’s what the stand-in skipper for this tournament Rohit Sharma told the media.

“We have never played in this part of the world since India is playing here after so long [12 years to be exact], so wanted to come over a little early and get used to the conditions,” he said. “As for the guys who are coming back from England, having been away from home for so long, it will serve right for them to spend a couple of days with their families and then come over and spend some time in the middle. It’s going to be tough to face the conditions but it’s going to be the same again.”

The contingent has been accompanied by five top bowlers from the domestic circuit – three pacers; Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna and Siddarth Kaul; along with left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and leg-spinner Mayank Markande. It is quite unprecedented to see that an Indian team is being provided with net-bowlers to help out with their preparations for a limited-overs series on foreign soil. Thus far, we have only noticed such scenarios ahead of important Test tours.

Hence, it shows the intensity level of this team regarding putting their best foot forward ahead of the Asia Cup. For them it is not just a dress-rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, this tournament is also a platform to provide the stakeholders of Indian cricket something to cheer about after what happened in England of late. If India manage to win the tournament, Ravi Shastri and the under-fire team management will get a breathing space ahead of the all-important tour of Australia. In hindsight, another poor show here can put the tenure of Shastri and Co. under some serious scrutiny.

Remember, in this Asia Cup, there are chances of three India-Pakistan matches within 10 days. And any defeat against Pakistan won’t be taken lightly by the fans, which may put BCCI and Supreme Court appointed CoA (Committee of Administrators) under pressure to take a few hard calls.

On the field, this tournament gives India an ideal opportunity to sort out their middle-order woes, which seems like their only weak point heading into next year’s World Cup. With regular skipper Virat Kohli being rested following the hectic tour of England, the likes of KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav will be auditioning for a permanent spot in the middle-order.

In the bowling department, the think-tank will monitor the performance of Shardul Thakur and the uncapped 20-year old left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed. It is likely that the team management will provide ample opportunities to the duo to manage the workload of fit-again Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah under this cramped schedule of Asia Cup. And any special performance by them will be noticed by the selectors.


Hence, understandably plenty will be at stake for the defending champions. So, rest assured, in this Asia Cup, there won’t be any sort of complacency or lack of intensity in the Rohit-led Indian team.

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