Ahead of India’s opening game in the Asia Cup 2018 against Hong Kong, batting great Sunil Gavaskar has said that stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma is fortunate to have the veteran campaigner MS Dhoni around.
Rohit will lead India in the 14th edition of Asia Cup in the absence of Virat Kohli, who was rested from the tournament after the draining England tour.
“India have a great mix of youth and experience and their skipper Rohit Sharma loves the 50-over format and will look to add a couple of tons to his record. He is fortunate to have MS Dhoni besides him to guide him during tough times. Dhoni’s experience is a priceless commodity that’s impossible to quantify and his guidance of the young spinners is legendary,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for TOI.
While India will begin its Asia Cup campaign against Hong Kong on September 18, they will take on arch-rivals Pakistan a day later. And Gavaskar is miffed with the scheduling of back to back matches for the Men in Blue.
“India’s first game against Hong Kong will be a nice warmup for the sterner battle the next day against Pakistan,” Gavaskar wrote.
“How the organisers scheduled two back-to-back games for India — with the second game being against Pakistan — is hard to understand, but that’s the way it is. Hong Kong have got to the Emirates after a hard-fought qualifying event, beating some other fancied associate teams in the bargain. They were overwhelmed by Pakistan in their first game and will now be looking to better their efforts against India. Normally India would like to bat first to give their batsmen valuable game time, but because they play Pakistan the very next day, they would like to finish the game early and reserve energy for that much-anticipated encounter,” he explained.
Gavaskar also mentioned the wrist-spinners – Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal – who have scripted quite a few limited-overs series for India in the past 18 months.
“India’s batting is generally the star attraction but this time around the variety they have in their bowling is also worth going miles to see. The two wrist-spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, in their different ways pick wickets regularly and then the way they rush to congratulate each other is reminiscent of the great spin quartet of the 70s, who also took great delight in each other’s success,” he stated.
Gavaskar feels Asia Cup would give the Indian fans a reason to cheer after the disappointing Test series defeat in England.
“India start their campaign to win not just the Asia Cup but also the fans they have lost after the recent tour of England. The high expectations from the English tour were belied and so some disenchantment that has crept in. A solid winning performance in the Asia Cup will make up greatly for that and win back those who were ready to turn their backs on India cricket,” he concluded.