Six-time Asia Cup (five times ODI Asia Cup) holders India are hot favourites any every major tournament. It’s no different in the upcoming Asia Cup 2018 in United Arab Emirates.
Skipper Virat Kohli, the no.1 ODI batsman, has been rested for the battle of Asian championship. Ajinkya Rahane has been left out too. There is no Ravichandran Ashwin in the squad as India rely on wristspinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. 20-year-old seamer Khaleel Ahmed has been called while Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadav and Ambati Rayudu been included.
In absence of Kohli, Rohit Sharma will lead the side. Rohit has captained India in the past and had successes. Recently, he won Nidahas Trophy T20I tri-series that involved Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in March this year.
India will have the experience of MS Dhoni, who led them in winning the T20I title in Bangladesh in 2016. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, KL Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah could be clinical for the Asian giant.
India couldn’t win one-day format Asia Cup since they triumphed in Sri Lanka in 2010. Their loss to Bangladesh in 2012 denied them in reaching the finals as well as in 2014 when they suffered close defeat to arch-rivals Pakistan. Although they won all of their T20I Asia Cup matches two years ago. They beat hosts Bangladesh in the final in Dhaka ahead of the World T20.
India will be facing Hong Kong and Pakistan in Group A. However, both their matches in Dubai International Stadium have been put on back-to-back days on September 18 and 19. BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) did complain against it but the ACC (Asian Cricket Council) didn’t make any change to the schedule.
India have been going through a purle patch in ODIs although they lost 1-2 against England on their recently concluded tour. They have won series against Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa (5-1 away) in past 12 months. They were runners-up in 2017 Champions Trophy in England and Wales where they lost to Pakistan in the final.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed
Group A- versus Hong Kong, Dubai, September 18
Group A- versus Pakistan, Dubai, September 19