DUBAI, Sept 14: Virat Kohli’s absence might have taken some sheen off it but the general excitement surrounding Indo-Pak encounters will be the USP of the six-nation Asia Cup starting Saturday with a Bangladesh-Sri Lanka clash here.
While there are two assured India-Pakistan matches, one in the group league and the other at the Super Four stage, the organisers, broadcasters, and the supporters will be hoping for a possible summit showdown on September 28 too.
For India, it will be a chance to see how the team reacts to pressure situations in absence of Kohli, who has been rested after a gruelling England tour, which ended with a 1-4 Test series loss earlier this week.
The team will begin its campaign on September 18 against Hong Kong, followed by the much-anticipated clash against Pakistan the next day.
While Rohit Sharma has been a brilliant white ball player, his leadership skills haven’t been tested against a quality side.
He led against Sri Lanka last December but it was a below par opposition. In fact, Bangladesh, with its resources, is a better 50-over side currently.
But the focal point would be how India India play a quality Pakistan side that has a world-class fast bowler in Mohammed Aamir, a solid all rounder in Hasan Ali, a prolific opener in Fakhar Zaman and talented batsmen such as Babar Azam and Harris Sohail.
India’s main aim would be to settle their middle-order combination and also find a perfect batting position for Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the course of the tournament.
The Asia Cup has been a tournament where Bangladesh have done well over the years. During the last edition at home, they were in final although the event was competed in T20 format.
In 2012, they played the finals in the 50 over format. The side under Mashrafe Mortaza has the wherewithal to compete in the 50-over format with a good bowling line-up for slower decks like the ones that will be on offer in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The batting comprises a mercurial Tamim Iqbal and the seasoned Mahmudullah Riyadh. Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan are fantastic on their days and the team would remain a dark horse in the tournament. – PTI
All matches to start 5 pm IST