Asia Cup lacked quality, but Dhoni terms win special ahead of World T20

  • Kushal Phatarpekar, Hindustan Times, Mirpur
  • Updated: Mar 07, 2016 13:57 IST
Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s lack of fight robbed the Asia Cup of intensity, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes the win just before the World T20 makes it quite special. (AFP Photo)

Pakistan and Sri Lanka’s lack of fight made the Asia Cup an underwhelming affair. India and Bangladesh were the only two sides who looked to be competing. While Sri Lanka’s injury issues forced them to lay low, Pakistan’s internal friction once again appeared to have left the team overwhelmed.

For India, the return of Virat Kohli from a break worked well for the side, as the in-form batsman was a calming presence in the batting-order. His knocks against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and against Bangladesh in the final on Sunday, were vital and gave the batting line-up a solidity that none in the opposition could break.

The series also saw Yuvraj Singh finally hitting some form and helping India check a final box that had been left blank since his inclusion in the World T20 squad.

In hindsight, India were not presented with a major challenge by any of the two teams. Barring a few early wickets, and the tension leading from that, India were never on the ropes.

Chasing a lowly total of 83 against Pakistan, India’s batsmen did wobble, but the total was always too small to cause major anxiety. Against Bangladesh in the opener, the initial string of wickets did cause a flutter, but their bowlers could not quite deliver the finishing moves. A dropped catch of Rohit Sharma, who went on to score 83, by Shakib Al Hasan was a lucky break on which India rode to their first win in the tournament.

Pakistan’s decision to rest senior bowler Wahab Riaz from the crucial game against Bangladesh hinted at some friction within the side. Following their defeat in the game and subsequent exit from the tournament, the country’s board chairman asked for a committee to be constituted to investigate where the selection of the team faltered.

On the field, If not for Mohammad Amir’s presence and fiery spells, Pakistan would have little to show. Their batsmen were their weakest link. None impressed.

Skipper Shahid Afridi had hinted before the Asia Cup, that the side would make changes ahead of the World T20. The results have now ensured that changes can be expected from the side that left Bangladesh and the one that will land in India for the World T20.

The other major team in the tournament, Sri Lanka, too did not quite bring their A game to the fore. An injury to captain and pace spearhead Lasith Malinga early in the series left a wide hole in the bowling line-up. The team management did not want to risk using him ahead of the World T20. So, despite the big games to compete in, Malinga stayed away.

For India, the lack of form from both Pakistan and Sri Lanka meant an Asia Cup that lacked the same intensity as other sides. The gnawing thing for them were the greenish wickets on offer.

Among all the teams, India’s squad had the most number of spinners in it. But that was an aspect that hardly mattered as pace dominated the 14-day tournament.

In terms of preparations for the World T20, the Asia Cup might not have provided India all the tests that they desired, however skipper MS Dhoni termed the win special. “If you consider it in context of the World T20, then the win is quite special. To go into a major event with a big win will really get the boys going, even before the first ball is bowled,” Dhoni said.

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