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India’s chance in the Asia Cup will face a tough challenge from three strong Test playing nations and an Associate nation who would like to enter into the groove before the World T20 begins. Host Bangladesh will take on India in the inaugural match on February 24 (tomorrow), at Mirpur, Dhaka.
As far as T20 concerned Indian are not avid T20 playing country. A year before it has played only T20 against England in September, before they played second after 10 months against Zimbabwe. The real Test begins when visiting South African team defeated India 2-0 in a three-match T20 series, with the third T20 washed away.
Before the grueling series against South Africa, India also lost an unexpected series to Bangladesh that was a major setback for India.
But, India bounced back against Australia Down Under. After losing the ODI series 4-1, India bruised Australia 3-0. Though the Australian squad was a second string unit as their key players were rested, only Shane Watson was left to lead the team. This proved that the Australians are not serious to the shortest format of cricket given that World T20 was just knocking at the door.
However, India got the rhythm for the marquee tournament as a full strength team got settled and every department was ticked at the right time. The subsequent home series against Sri Lanka also helped India to warm up before the Asia Cup and World T20 begins. But, both Australia and Sri Lankan team rested a couple of their key players against India.
Australia asked David Warner, Steve Smith and Josh Hazlewood to join the camp for New Zealand tour while Sri Lanka kept their strength in a box with Lasith Malinga, Angelo Matthews, Nuwan Kulasekara rested for the series before they featured in the Sri Lanka’s 15 men Asia Cup and World T20 squad.
So, now the Indian team will face real Test in Bangladesh. Nevertheless, the current Indian team is balanced with opening duo Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and No. 3 Virat Kohli, the middle order also got the momentum with the in-form Suresh Raina and Hardik Pandya. But, the tricky positions are No. 6 and No. 7, the question is whether MS Dhoni will come to bat at this position or will he send Yuvraj at this position- have to see. Now, with MS Dhoni suffered a muscle spasm, the No. 6 and No. 7 has become crucial as wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel’s inclusion in the team, who plays for Gujarat and Mumbai Indians as an opener. The No. 8 is fine with Ravindra Jadeja, and the bowling department is balanced with two spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Ashish Nehra.
Now, the question is whether India able to continue their current momentum against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
The Pakistani team got the boost playing the high competitive Pakistan Super League that helped Shahid Afridi lead men to get the rhythm for the marquee tournament, so the encounter between two eternal rivals will be an exciting one.
At the mean time, the Bangladesh team at home will not easily give up against India. Bangladesh team lead by Mashrafe Mortaza made a couple of changes in the team and brought up pinch hitters in the team.
India’s only defeat to Sri Lanka in the three-match home series also exposed the weak zones. Now, MS Dhoni suffered an injury and if he misses the first T20 against Bangladesh on February 24, India will have to shuffle their playing XI as Parthiv Patel ‘precautionary’ measure flown to Dhaka.
However, India have lost only T20 in Bangladesh in six matches. The defeat came against Sri Lanka in the World T20 2014 final. With Dhoni said that they will play for the win and the team is at ‘autopilot mode’ India will have big Test in Asia Cup, the mega preparatory camp for Asian countries before the World T20 2016 next month, but the it is not the mountainous challenge. India can hold the trophy on March 6.
Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (C), Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya, Yuvraj Singh, Parthiv Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra