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Two months into 2014, Team India still looking for first win

Last updated on: February 25, 2014 17:45 IST

Two months into 2014, Team India still looking for first win

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After being humiliated in South Africa and New Zealand in recent months, Virat Kohli holds the key to a turnaround in fortunes at the Asia Cup.

Embarrassed in South Africa and New Zealand, regional powerhouse India are hoping for a turnaround in fortunes under a new captain when they take on a troubled Bangladesh in their Asia Cup opener in Fatullah, on Wednesday.

- Asia Cup facts and figures

The five-time champions’ build up to the 12th edition of the regional tournament was quite similar to that in 2012, when they landed in Bangladesh on the back of eight successive Test defeats in England and Australia.

Now they have arrived after losing the Test series (0-1) and One-Day Internationals (0-2) to South Africa, and suffering similar humiliation at the hands of New Zealand.


Image: Virat Kohli looks on during a practice session.
Photographs: Dinuka Liyanawatte/Reuters

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The World champion side capped their two overseas tours with four successive defeats in One-dayers.

However, playing against an opponent that is struggling with their own set of problems and whom they enjoy a good record, India will hope to finally notch their first victory in the 2014 calendar.

Bangladesh's attacking opener Tamim Iqbal has been ruled out of the event because of a neck strain and all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan will also miss the action against India due to a two-match ban for making lewd gestures on live television.

Fitness doubts also hang over veteran pacer Mashrafe Mortaza (swollen knee) while captain Mushfiqur Rahim is nursing an injured finger that had kept him out of the two Twenty20 internationals against Sri Lanka earlier this month.


Image: Captains pose with the Asia Cup: (From left) Bangladesh's Mushfiqur Rahim, Pakistan's Misbah-ul-Haq, India's Virat Kohli, Afghanistan's Mohammad Nabi and Sri Lanka's Angelo Mathews.
Photographs: Reuters

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Two months into 2014, Team India still looking for first win

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Adding to the woes, the host nation clearly did not give a happy picture with selection-related controversy marring the build-up. Skipper Musfiqur hit out at their chief selector for picking the squad without consulting him.

All this gives India a good chance to make a winning start even without the finishing abilities of skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was ruled out due to a side-strain, and left-handed Suresh Raina.

Apart from the usual expectation of being the captain, Virat Kohli will also be the batting mainstay as India will take solace from the fact that the stylish right-hander's average against Bangladesh is a staggering 122.

Kohli, who aggregates 732 runs, inclusive of four hundreds and three

fifties, was the leading run-getter in the last Asia Cup. He also registered the tournament’s highest score (185) against Pakistan.


Image: Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina.
Photographs: BCCI

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Two months into 2014, Team India still looking for first win

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After being named Dhoni's replacement as captain for the first time in a tri-series in the West Indies, also involving Sri Lanka, Kohli has one loss and seven wins under his belt.

But the Asia Cup may prove to be his biggest challenge as games against Sri Lanka and Pakistan will be high-pressure contests.

Test regular Cheteshwar Pujara will lend stability to the middle order, but, more than that, India will want him to reinvent himself from the classical mould to suit to the demands of the shorter version.

With Kohli having adapted himself to No 3 and Ajinkya Rahane at No 4, it remains to be seen where the Saurashtra batsman is accommodated in the order. But as the tournament proceeds to the business end, India's biggest worry will be to find somebody who is as dependable as Dhoni in crisis situations.


Image: Ajinkya Rahane.
Photographs: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

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Two months into 2014, Team India still looking for first win

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While many have seen Dinesh Karthik's ability as a hard-hitting batsmen in the IPL, it's time for him to prove himself in the One-day format. There will also be pressure on Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin to deliver down the order.

In such a scenario, India will look to utilise Stuart Binny in the role of finisher. He can also be handy with his medium pace bowling.

Overall, it will be an astounding feat for Kohli if India goes all the way to retain supremacy in the subcontinent's mega tournament. 


Image: Ravindra Jadeja.
Photographs: BCCI

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Two months into 2014, Team India still looking for first win

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Last year's runners-up Bangladesh are the subcontinent's perennial under achievers and they will approach the tournament to fulfill their Trophy drought.

This time, it won't be easy though.

Left-handed Tamim's injury has left a big void in the batting department while Shakib's absence from the matches against India and Afghanistan makes their final progression even tougher.

Imrul Kayes, who has not played an ODI since December 2011, has been recalled as he will have to justify his selection.

In bowling, Shakib's two-game suspension will leave a huge void, but it is an opportunity for left-armer Abdur Razzak, who has emerged as a limited-overs’ specialist with his tidy bowling, to excel.

Teams (from)

India: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Varun Aaron, Ishwar Pandey, Amit Mishra, Ambati Rayudu and Stuart Binny.

Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain/wk), Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny, Mashrafe Mortaza, Naeem Islam, Rubel Hossain, Shakib-Al-Hasan, Ziaur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Anamul Haque, Imrul Kayes, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Shamsur Rahman, Sohag Gazi.

Match starts: 1.30 pm IST.


Image: Mushfiqur Rahim of Bangladesh keeps wickets.
Photographs: Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

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