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Asia Cup 2018: A memorable victory for India

by Sahir Usman Sep 30, 2018 • 09:48 AM

This is not the first time that Indian attack was taken to cleaners by the openers to post a hundred-plus partnership, Hong Kong, too, frustrated them, Nizakat Khan (92) and captain Anshuman Rath (73) putting on 174.

In both the matches, neither the captain nor the bowlers panicked. They had the wiser counsel of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from behind the stumps and the golden arm of Kedar Jadhav to pull them out of tight situations. 

When the United Arab Emirates hosts any cricket it is expected to be a high-scoring. Yet, the total never crossed the 300-mark. Strangely, India posted the highest total in the tournament, 287, and made a heavy weather of defending it against qualifiers Hong Kong.

Hong Kong deserved to win after a fantastic chase, which fell short of the target by 29 runs. Hong Kong's 259 for eight is the second highest score of the tournament.

The shocking part is Pakistan's poor showing. Their morale was so low that if they had played the final they would have been staring at a third defeat against India in the tournament, after getting hammered twice. 

The tragedy for them is that their match-winning pacer Mohammed Amir had to be dropped after Rohit and Shikhar Dhawan hammered him for 41 runs in five overs. Then their top-order batting was panicky, Shoaib Malik bailing them out more than once.

Talking positives is a favourtie pastime for the captains. The tournament brought Dhawan back into focus as he hit two hundreds to be named the player of the tournament. But that may not help him retain his Test place in the upcoming series against West Indies.

His miserable showing in South Africa and England will continue to be marked against him, though Rohit may be back at No.6, after missing the England tour, when the selectors sit down to pick the squad on Sunday.

The selectors may continue to rest and rotate players but it is unclear how much will that help either the players or the team. Rohit, who is being seen as white-ball cricket captain in the Dhoni mould, said after the tournament that the fourth and sixth slot in the World Cup batting order are still up for grabs. Ambati Tirupathi Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik are in the running and they had decent outings. Karthik in particular played two critical innings, including his 37 in the final.

As for Dhoni, he should play in domestic cricket, as Sunil Gavaskar suggested, and that will help him to regain his touch as a free-flowing stroke-maker, though he is still the best man to tend the wickets. He might even regain his power to be a finisher knocking around.

The bowling is pretty good, though there is place for an off-spinner to complete the attack. Whether it should be Ravichandran Ashwin or Washington Sundar is an issue to be decided after a couple of more months and matches. 

The bench strength had been tested in the Asia Cup and most of them will get more opportunities to fight for their places in the World Cup in England next summer. 

Veturi Srivatsa/IANS

Also Read: Indian test squad for West Indies series announced