It’ll be a tough ride

The pressure is definitely not on Team India in the Asia Cup and this may be a blessing in disguise for Virat Kohli and his team. Of course, the attention will be on Kohli when on the field and he will perhaps get a whiff of the burden of captaincy.

Virat Kohli, the heir apparent to M.S. Dhoni, will have the opportunity to lead a young side and in the process establish that he is ready to take over. Of course, the record of MSD in the ODIs is excellent and as such it will be a while before Dhoni hands over the charge, but the leadership qualities of Kohli will be on display for the selectors to assess.

Kohli has stacked up enough tons in the ODIs and will be expected to lead the charge for Team India, especially in the absence of the experienced Yuvraj, Raina and Dhoni. However, his biggest challenge will be the manner in which he handles the bowlers. In recent times, the Indian bowling has done as well as expected, but let’s not forget that the fielding restrictions in vogue have made it even tougher for the bowlers. The art of being a bowlers’ captain has not been mastered by many and if Kohli can show a semblance of it in Dhaka, he will create a buzz.

The Asia Cup will be a highly tough competition as all sides are used to playing on more or less similar kinds of tracks and besides, the batsmen are proficient against spinners. This will require the Indian pace attack to be at its best and it remains to be seen how the pace bowlers measure up to the demands. Kohli will have to ensure that his bowlers are constantly egged on for them to perform. The lack of big hitters like Yuvraj, Raina and Dhoni will mean that Team India has to be very mean on the field. The spin duo of Ashwin and Jadeja will be tested given that the Sub-Continent batsmen are very adept and skilful in handling the slower bowlers. Ashwin has not been the first choice in Tests abroad of late which might spur him on to prove a point.

On the batting front, the choice of the anchor role between Pujara and Rahane will be a tough one to decide. But with Kohli at three, the balance might tilt in Rahane’s favour simply because he is a better fielder and can play big shots.

Dinesh Karthik gets yet another big opportunity to convert his enormous talent into performance. This may be a make or break situation for the busy wicketkeeper-batsman. He has the ability and the experience, but somehow he has let himself down by trying to surpass his own self. Hopefully, he would have realised the areas he needs to tighten up and will deliver this time around.

The pressure is definitely not on Team India and this may be a blessing in disguise for Kohli and his team. Of course, the attention will be on Kohli when on the field and he will perhaps get a whiff of the burden of captaincy. He has the uncanny knack of handling responsibility without it affecting his batting which will come in handy. In addition, his experience gained by leading at various levels before will give him the confidence as well. The role of captaincy will require him to live in the present as looking too far ahead will be detrimental in every way. Will he compartmentalise his thinking? That will be the big question he needs to answer as he takes the field. I say this because the temptation to think about getting the biggest honour soon can be a major distraction. He needs to realise that the job will be given to him sometime in the future and hence take things as they come.

One thing is for sure, the Asia Cup will not be a walk in the park.