VVS Laxman, legendary Indian batsman and cricket commentator, has referred on Friday (September 21) the ongoing Asia Cup 2018 as the litmus test of the mettle of the Indian players without Virat Kohli.
It is a great opportunity for the other players to prove their mettle in the UAE, especially India’s middle-order is being tested in the six-team tournament, says Laxman. He further added that the 2018 Asia Cup is a step towards preparing for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2018 next year in England.
Laxman wrote in his column for the Times of India, “After a tough Test series in England, it was imperative for India to move on as a new format beckoned. While the Asia Cup is a massively important tournament, it is but a step towards preparing for next summer's World Cup. Without Virat, this competition will be a test of the mettle of the other players, and from what we have seen so far, they are up to the test. India were a little rusty against Hong Kong, and found themselves under serious pressure as Anshuman Rath and Nizakat put on an Asia Cup record opening stand. With a little more experience and poise in the middle-order, Hong Kong could have pulled off one of the greatest upsets in cricket but once India broke through, there was no stopping them.”
He also lauded Indian Team for their “greater awareness” in the Asia Cup 2018, as they were a little rusty against Hong Kong but immediately addressed the things and came out in the top form against Pakistan, registering a massive 8 wicket win against Pakistan.
Laxman further added, “The areas that needed immediate addressing after the Hong Kong scare were striking with the new ball, and showing greater awareness and intent in the middle-order. Remarkably, in less than 24 hours, India were in top form in both aspects.”
Former international also credited Bhuvneshwar Kumar for exposing the middle-order of the Men in Green here. He further wrote, “Bhuvneshwar coming off a back injury and a long layoff, shrugged off the inconsistency against Hong Kong with a wonderful new ball burst against Pakistan. Bhuvi at his best is a consistent wicket-taker up front and, by evicting the in-form Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq in his first spell, he exposed the middle-order that the spinners feasted on.”
Meanwhile, Laxman is delighted to see Shikhar Dhawan, who had a miserable time with the willow in the England Test series, returned to his form, as well as, impressed with Ambati Rayudu's approach, saying it is delighted to see runs from the top four batters even without Kohli in the tournament.
Laxman signed off by saying, “It was refreshing to see Shikhar Dhawan return to run-scoring ways. Over the last couple of years, the bulk of India's limited-overs runs have been contributed by the top three of Shikhar, Rohit Sharma and Virat. In the regular skipper's absence, it is even more significant for the openers to provide good starts. Shikhar showed excellent touch in stacking up a hundred against Hong Kong, and that confidence rubbed on against Pakistan. Rohit was fluent and elegant, and I was impressed with Ambati Rayudu's approach in both matches.”