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HindustanTimes Wed,03 Sep 2014
India's Asia Cup campaign: Time to plug the glaring holes
Anand Sachar , Hindustan Times
Fatullah, February 28, 2014
First Published: 00:16 IST(28/2/2014)
Last Updated: 00:19 IST(28/2/2014)
Mohammed Shami (L) collides with teammate Ambati Rayudu as he takes a catch off Bangladeshi batsman Shamsur Rahman during the second match of the Asia Cup at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium in Fatullah. (AFP Photo)

On a sultry morning in Dhaka, Sri Lanka were slogging it out in a full-fledged practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium. Their next Asia Cup opponents, India, were relaxing.

The rest was understandable. India had overcome Bangladesh at Fatullah on Wednesday night, their first victory in 12 international games. Add to it the sole day's rest before their next game against Sri Lanka, who beat Pakistan here on Tuesday.

Staying fresh before a game is one aspect, allowing complacency to creep in at its cost will be criminal for this India team searching for stability. When the familiar foes square up after a gap of eight months, it is imperative the Men in Blue keep in mind the chinks in their armour.

Plenty to worry
As has been the case over the last two international assignments, Virat Kohli played the saviour. Ajinkya Rahane found some one-day form, but the openers continued to struggle. With the rest of the batsmen untested and the team without the services of MS Dhoni, there are reasons enough for the team to be apprehensive.

"It is crucial for us to get early wickets. With Dhoni not in the middle, we might be in with a good chance if we can take early wickets," said Dinesh Chandimal.

The revival of the team's confidence from beating Bangladesh may not mean much if the appalling bowling display is not rectified.

Leg-spinner Amit Mishra's continued role as a tourist could possibly end. For, even if persisting with the listless R Ashwin results in his coming back among the wickets, there are major doubts over his effectiveness abroad – where India play most of their cricket in the next year, leading up to and including the World Cup.

Ill-directed pace
Varun Aaron is another bowler who might need to take time off to sort his line out. While the young bowler has intimidating pace, he appears to get carried away on the big stage. It is only pace allied to a consistent line and length that has created fearsome fast bowlers over the years – something Aaron needs to work on.

Sri Lanka are well aware of the weaknesses in the Indian unit. India have won the last two games against them, but Angelo Mathews' boys fancy their chances on Friday. "They played special cricket. They are good at chasing but we have a good bowling attack. We have something up our sleeves. We are looking forward to playing to our plan. We even have a plan for Kohli," said a buoyant Chandimal, the ‘keeper-batsman.

Sri Lanka's confidence also stems from the fact that they have just ended their bilateral series in Bangladesh, which will be to their advantage. "We are here for quite some time. We know the conditions --- when the dew is going to come into play and how the wicket would behave," he said.

Unless India show improvement in their top order batting and bowling and the middle-order stands the test of the Lasith Malinga-led attack, they could be left hoping that Kohli, who scored a ton in the triumph over Sri Lanka in the 2012 Asia Cup, maintains his ferocious form.


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