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Asia Cup: Demoralised India look to sign off on a good note

Last updated on: March 04, 2014 17:38 IST

Asia Cup: Demoralised India look to sign off on a good note

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All but eliminated from the race to final, a demoralised India will be looking to sign off their disastrous Asia Cup campaign on a positive note when they take on spirited Afghanistan in their last round-robin league match, in Mirpur, on Wednesday. 

Hit hard by successive defeats, India will be eying a bonus point victory to boost their sagging morale in what has been a depressing campaign for the record five-time champions. 

India's minuscule chances of making the final hinge on bizarre arithmetical equations.

Virat Kohli's men will have to get past Pakistan in net run-rate to make the final, a situation which will only arise if Bangladesh beat Pakistan in their last match. 

Four-time champions Sri Lanka have already sealed a berth in the final after three successive victories, the last with a bonus point against Afghanistan.


Image: Team India celebrates the fall of a wicket
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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The batting has centred around Kohli

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But it's not going to be easy for the Indians who look vulnerable without regular skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni; that winning edge is missing from the side. 

The batting has centred around Kohli as none of the other batsmen have shown the temperament to stay at the crease and go all the way. 

For a team that relies on its batting prowess, it is proving to be the difference between victory and defeat.

Wednesday's match will once again be a test of India's batting against the game's minnows, who have been a revelation in the tournament after an impressive show, especially their pace bowling.


Image: Virat Kohli celebrates his hundred against Bangladesh
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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Afghanistan have a potent pace attack

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Afghanistan have a potent pace attack in the Zadran duo of Shapoor and Dawlat; the left-right combination brings in the variety to fast bowling.

The spin department also has variety in the trio of skipper Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari and Hamza Hotak. 

Nabi gets vicious turn with his off-spin, while Shenwari with his acute leg-breaks make the duo the team's principal wicket-taking spinners.

Left-armer Hotak has also done well to restrict the flow of runs at one end, conceding runs at 4.04 from three matches. 

Bubbling with enthusiasm, Afghanistan announced their arrival on the big stage when they beat Bangladesh by 32 runs for their maiden victory against a Test-playing nation after four matches. 

Their bowlers will look to primarily target Kohli.


Image: Afghanistan's Samiullah Shenwari (left) and wicketkeeper Mohammad Shahzad celebrate a dismissal
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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Kohli's aggressive captaincy hasn't translated into wins

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A level of mediocrity has descended on the Indian side after drawing a blank in the tours of South Africa and New Zealand. 

Kohli's aggressive captaincy has put spark in the Indian side, but, unfortunately, it hasn't translated into victories, barring against Bangladesh in their first match. 

Leading from the front, Kohli slammed 136 to help India recover from a jittery start and set up an easy six wicket win over Bangladesh.

Since then, he hasn't been able to put up big runs and India lost on both occasions. 

India's specialist batsmen Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu showed spark with half-centuries, but their failure to make it big has hurt the team.

 


Image: Virat Kohli
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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Rohit Sharma has been guilty of throwing away his wicket

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Sharma looked fluent while giving India a flying start in their match against Pakistan, but was guilty of throwing his wicket away after scoring a half century.

It was Ambati Rayudu's 58 from 62 balls, followed by Ravindra Jadeja's unbeaten 52 from 42 that gave the Indian total some respectability.

Rayudu, who was preferred over big guns of Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, will certainly take some confidence from the knock, while the emergence of Jadeja as that much needed all-rounder are two positives from the tournament.

At the same time, Dinesh Karthik's shoddy work -- he missed two stumpings in the last two matches, one against Kumar Sangakkara, who went on to play a match-winning century -- has hurt India badly. 

It's important for the Indian team to finish the tournament on a positive note as they will be returning to Bangladesh in less than a fortnight for the World Twenty20 Championship.


Image: Rohit Sharma
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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India would play two warm-up fixtures before the WorldT20

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India will play two warm-up fixtures against Sri Lanka and England on March 17 and 19 respectively before beginning their World T20 campaign against Pakistan at the same venue on March 21. 

One of the big positives for India in the Asia Cup is the showing of tweaker Amit Mishra, who has reinvented himself to give bite to an innocuous spin attack. 

In contrast, Ravichandran Ashwin's regular experimentation with his action and variety isn't helping the team.

Mishra's inclusion against Pakistan suddenly brought a fresh lease of life. 

Playing his first International match after four months, he almost brought about Pakistan's downfall, taking a tidy two wickets for 28 runs from his quota before Shahid Afridi smashed two sixes off Ashwin to clinch a nail-biting one-wicket victory.


Image: Team India celebrates a wicket
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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Shami has begun to look jaded

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In the pace department, Mohammad Shami, since his emergence on the national scene from nowhere, has begun to look jaded while Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not looked menacing for the opposition. 

Afghanistan's inexperienced batting proved to be their bane when they were bundled out for 124 in pursuit of Sri Lanka's 254 on Monday night.

But they are a spirited bunch and will not be short on motivation, especially after their landmark victory over Bangladesh that helped them break into the one-day rankings table. 

With 32 rating points, 12th placed Afghanistan have the chance of going past Ireland (38) with another victory.


Image: Mohammed Shami hands the ball over to the umpire even as his teammates celebrate a wicket
Photographs: Andrew Biraj/Reuters

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