'Asia Cup has always been a challenging tournament. It's an opportunity to test yourself against the best teams in the sub-continent.'
India's batting mainstay Virat Kohli says the Asia Cup, starting in Mirpur on Wednesday, is the perfect platform to assess the team's strengths, weaknesses and its current standing on the global stage ahead of the big-ticket World Twenty20 next month.
On Wednesday, India locks horns with Bangladesh in the tournament-opener. The continental event is the team's final phase of preparation for next month's WT20 in India.
India begin the tournament on the back of some very impressive outings in the slam-bang format against Australia and Sri Lanka.
Emboldened by the recent success at home and away in the T20 format, Mahendra Singh Dhoni recently said that the team is in auto-pilot mode, and Kohli looked at the remark very positively.
"MS (Dhoni) was spot on because I think it comes from the fact that we play a lot of T20 cricket. In Indian Premier League, we get so many games to play and execute our skills, so you keep getting better every season.
"If you see the number of games being played by players in the IPL, the numbers are very high, so everyone knows what needs to be done and at what stage of the game in that tournament. I think even MS (Dhoni) is not required to put in so much thought on what needs to be done because the players are experienced. That takes the load off. So that's why he said the team is in auto-pilot mode. I think that's what he meant.
"That everyone knows what needs to be done at what stage throughout the 20 overs, be it batting, bowling or in the field. I think it's a very good atmosphere the team is in right now. Everyone is very sure what needs to be done."
"During the upcoming World Cup, the conditions are going to be similar and we will probably be playing all these oppositions at some stage. So, as many teams as we play before the World Cup, it gives us a great opportunity to assess what the teams are like, what the balance is like, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and where do we stand compared to them. You can see it (Asia Cup) as a whole package before the World Cup," Kohli said.
"Asia Cup has always been a challenging tournament; it's like a mini event as far as the sub-continental teams are concerned. It's an opportunity to test yourself, as I said, against the best teams in the sub-continent. It's a competitive tournament with different opposition, with different set of skills testing you all the time."
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's availability for the opening game of the tournament remains doubtful after he suffered a muscle spasm injury during a training session. This has prompted the Board of Control for Cricket in India to rush Parthiv Patel as a back-up.
Kohli did not clarify whether Dhoni would sit out of Wednesday's match.
"With Parthiv coming in, we will have to sit down and see if that situation comes where he has to play. We will then have to sort out a combination, the best possible for the team in terms of the batting order but, as of now, we cannot. Unless we have a decision we cannot sit down and make a concrete plan."
"Obviously, a discussion will take place; it will happen sometime today during the practise session as to what needs to be done if that situation arises. Yeah, obviously, it's going to be different from what we have been playing with till now. We just have to wait and see how the situation pans out."