Former fast bowler Venkatesh Prasad has said that even though the victory in the Asia Cup 2018 is one to savour for Indian Cricket, the form of Mahendra Singh Dhoni with the bat is a worrying sign going forward and says the great man needs to start delivering again as the ICC Cricket World Cup in England comes near.
In his column for Times of India, Prasad wrote, "At the end of the two-week cricket extravaganza in the UAE, Rohit Sharma and Co. emerged deserving Asia Cup champions. With the focus on next year's World Cup, the victory is a big statement of intent by the Indian side. Having said that, it was also a reality check for the middle-order, which still looks fluid." and added, "MS Dhoni will need to step up as a batman. Although Rishabh Pant is waiting in the wings, Dhoni's wicketkeeping skills remain sharp and a cut above the rest."
Prasad, being a fast bowler himself, couldn't help but appreciate just how good Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were in the dry, humid and challenging conditions in UAE.
Prasad noted, "While Rohit and the tournament's top run-getter Shikhar Dhawan's form augurs well for the team, for me, the most reassuring aspect of India's campaign were pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah." adding, "The fast bowlers' efforts on flat tracks was laudable, as was Rohit's captaincy. The opener led from the front, scoring 317 runs with a century and two half-centuries and made some shrewd decisions in bowling changes and field settings,"
Prasad also praised the likes of Hong Kong and Afghanistan for their great fight and reflected on Sri Lanka and Pakistan's poor performance in the competition, writing, "While the champions are always one, there were many winners in the tournament. I believe the landscape of Asian cricket has changed considerably with this tournament. Lower-ranked teams have now challenged the powerhouses. In fact, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were ousted by less-fancied teams. It is heartening to see the spirit and determination with which Hong Kong, Afghanistan and Bangladesh played throughout the event."
"There are many lessons to be learnt - especially for Sri Lanka and Pakistan - from these teams. Pakistan need to look beyond Shoaib Malik in times of crisis and Sri Lanka's over-dependency on Lasith Malinga and Angelo Mathews cost them dear," he added.
Before signing off, it is only right that Prasad lauded Bangladesh for putting in a spirited performance in the run-chase with the ball during the final against India and expressed, "Although Bangladesh lost the final, their campaign has been praiseworthy. They fought hard and took the challenge to the opposition camp. There was hunger backed by spirit. Even after losing two of their key men - Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan - to injuries, they made good use of the resources. Coming to the Afghans, their campaign was promising but the batsmen should put in more work to be competitive in all conditions,"