Former batsman and selector, Sandeep Patil has criticised Indian Captain Virat Kohli's decision to rest and skip the upcoming edition of the Asia Cup in United Arab Emirates.
While MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors, has cleared that the move was substantially aimed at ensuring that India's best batsman remains fresh, having just gone through a very long tour and a grueling five-match Test series in England, Sandeep Patil thinks it is unfair on the many lovers of Virat and the Indian team to not have one of their key players featuring in a marquee event where there is a strong likelihood of facing Pakistan thrice across two weeks.
In his column for The Quint, Sandeep wrote, "Lately, after the introduction of T-20 cricket, many of our own players have been seen opting out of national duty to make themselves available and fit for the cash-rich IPL." he added, "The latest blow came when Indian selectors decided to give a break to Virat Kohli from next week’s Asia Cup."
"I do agree that players’ workload should be taken into account but when it comes to India-Pakistan matches – in which the cricket-loving people of India get so emotionally and sentimentally involved – it makes it difficult to understand why such a decision was made. In fact, it is not just the fans, even players and board officials of both the countries feel very strongly about this one big match-up."
Patil cited the example of "great Kapil Dev, whose workload started at an early age and never finished till he retired. He used to bowl not only long spells in matches" across formats and questioned, "Has cricket changed so much that today’s Indian players who are so fit and focused can’t take the workload? As the years passed by, different techniques and theories and workload management has taken the front seat."
Patil stated that winning the Asia Cup any day outweighs the triumph against the current West Indies at home and further wrote questioning, "It is unfortunate that at a time like this, the BCCI is having its own problems. In the last two years, the fight and arguments between the Lodha Committee-appointed COA and other BCCI members has been in the extreme. In such a situation, who is calling the shots in the team then? Is it captain Kohli? Is it coach Ravi Shastri? The team management? Or the trainer who manages the workload of these players?"
"My argument is that when we have number one batsman in the world who is in brilliant form, has taken Indian cricket to another level and has the ability to conquer the cricketing world," he added, "Virat Kohli should have been informed by the selectors about the importance of leading and winning the Asia Cup."
Meanwhile, Virat resting has put the attention on opener Rohit Sharma, as he leads the side in ambition to try and win India the Asia Cup. This is going to be Rohit's toughest challenge as a captain of India, having previously led the team whenever Virat has not featured.
Patil reiterated the stern examination and wrote, "Rohit now has a big task ahead of him – get the team together, get the balance right and pick the right combination. But he does not have time in his hand, he has to act fast. What mistakes like not preparing well can result in, we experienced during the England tour. Every day, every game brings new challenges to the captain and players."
"As we have always been saying, we have a great team and we a have great chance. But having a great team on paper and seeing great players performing on the field are two different things. Like all cricket loving people of India, I am also hoping that we not only beat Pakistan but we should win the Asia Cup once again." he concluded.
The Asia Cup begins with Bangladesh facing off Sri Lanka on September 15, while India plays Pakistan on September 19 having played their opening encounter versus Hong Kong a day earlier.