The Asia Cup 2018 has so far given us a surprise with Bangladesh totally crushing Sri Lanka in the first match of the tournament. With Pakistan predictably routing Hong Kong, the tournament is anxiously awaiting the clash of the titans in India and Pakistan on September 19.
Before Team India clashes with its arch rivals, they have Hong Kong to contend with on September 18. Hong Kong showed a bit of fight against Pakistan, but Pakistani bowling was just too good for them. They will look forward to putting some more effort against Indian bowlers.
India, on the other hand, will want to finish the HK game as soon as possible and get some much-needed rest, since they have to face Pakistan the next day. India will be led by Rohit Sharma in absence of Virat Kohli and will have Shikhar Dhawan as his deputy in the tournament.
Let’s have a look at the predicted India XI for the match against Hong Kong.
The Sharma-Dhawan duo will also open for India as they have been doing since 2013. The left hand-right hand combination has given nightmares to the opposition bowlers for a long time and with Rohit Sharma batting with more responsibility being the captain, Hong Kong bowlers will only hope that India doesn’t bat first or a Rohit Sharma double hundred and even a possible triple might be a reality.
The no.3 spot goes to KL Rahul in our predicted lineup given his good form on the limited-overs tour of England and his ton in the last Test at the Oval against England. Ambati Rayudu, who cleared his yo-yo test and was supposed to go to England for the ODIs, may be selected for the all-important no.4 slot, given his brilliant run in the IPL and for India A team.
MS Dhoni comes in next at no.5 and with his hitting prowess waning with time as evident from his limited overs performance in England, this is the position best suited for the veteran keeper, where he can build an innings and let others take the responsibility of finishing matches or hitting the big shots.
Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya may be chosen as the finishers and all-rounders. Jadhav has recovered from his hamstring injury and is raring to go, with Pandya already proving his mettle in the limited overs series in England. Pandya might play the role of the third seamer and Jadhav might roll his extremely low arm spinners to support the main spinners.
The spin twins in Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have wrecked havoc for the past one year or so and with the UAE pitches favoring the spinners, expect these two to continue their demolition against Hong Kong batsmen, who were clueless against Pakistani leg-spinner Shadab Khan the other day.
With Bumrah playing three Tests and bowling long spells in them, man management might play a role in him being rested and Shardul Thakur being called up to replace him. Thakur has got limited opportunities and if he can perform like he did in South Africa in the only ODI he got, he might push for the third seamer position in the team.
And with Bumrah rested, the onus of being the bowling spearhead falls on a now fitter Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Kumar might not get the swing in UAE conditions, but the dry pitches might bring in his change of pace and length into play.
COC Predicted India XI for the match against Hong Kong:
Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni (WK), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Yuzvendra Chahal