Yusuf Pathan smiles during a training session in the nets in Dhaka, Bangladesh. AP/Pavel Rehman
India returned earlier than expected from their tour Down Under and the 10 days in between must have helped the players get a good break before they embarked on the tour of Bangladesh for the Asia Cup. The gap must have also helped the boys clear their mind of the forgettable Australia tour.
The Asia Cup is crucial from India's point of view. Since the tour of England in 2011, India's showing outside the sub-continent has been dismal. From the Asia Cup till the end of 2013, India will not step out of the sub-continent. So, it's the opportune time for youngsters to come forward and take on the responsibility.
India take on Sri Lanka in their first game. After the tour of South Africa, Sri Lanka moved to Australia. They not only qualified for the best-of-three finals but also pushed the home team to the decider. After two gruelling series in tough conditions, the islanders should be jaded but their success in both the countries should keep them motivated. They lost to South Africa in the Test series, after having won the Durban Test. Of the five-match ODI series, they won two. In Australia, they pushed India out of the finals. So, Sri Lanka have enough reasons to be upbeat.
For India, Sehwag and Zaheer haven't made it to the team due to injuries. With Viru not available, India will have the opportunity to play a set opening pair of Sachin and Gambhir. It should be Kohli at No. three and Rohit, Raina, Dhoni and Jadeja at 4, 5, 6 and 7 respectively. You will still have the Pathan brothers to fill up the all-rounder's slot. That means Manoj Tiwary might have to sit out again.
I feel Manoj and Yusuf Pathan should be given a chance because Raina and Rohit have got plenty of opportunities in Australia. India should give Ashok Dinda a break because the young man has been in terrific form this season. For India, setting the right balance in their bowling could be the key to their success.
The writer is former India & current Bengal team captain, and the views are personal
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