India enter the Asia Cup in the UAE on the back of some dispiriting performances. They were expected to win a majority of the games during their recent tour of the UK but suffered a chastening setback in the ODI series before being crushed 4-1 in the Tests.
Many members of the Asia Cup squad played both the Test and ODI series and apart from being low on morale, must be exhausted after playing on and off for three straight months.
India will be without captain Virat Kohli who is being rested ahead of a busy season. That means the men in blue will be without their best batsman and ODI lynchpin. That should be music to the ears of opposition players.
Here we take a look at how the Indian team stacks up.
COACH – RAVI SHASTRI
The 56-year-old be under pressure after his plans fell flat in England. He can’t run away from the fact the management made some blunders in selection and preparation. No room for mistakes.
CAPTAIN – ROHIT SHARMA
With Kohli not there, needs to not only set the tone with the bat but also rally the troops. His most high-pressure assignment. The team is in a sensitive position and needs astute leadership.
STAR MAN – KULDEEP YADAV
The wickets in UAE should help the left-arm wrist spinner really showcase his skills. Most players in the tournament haven’t faced him and in a short clash like this, can prove critical.
ONE TO WATCH – KHALEEL AHMED
One of the most exciting left-arm quick bowlers to emerge in India after many years. Has pace, control and can move the ball. Has a long way to go but the basic ingredients are top class.
STRENGTHS – EXPERIENCE
Even without Virat, this team has loads of experience. MS Dhoni has played more than 500 internationals. A major chunk of the squad has been around for years and played major tournaments.
WEAKNESS – RECENT SETBACKS
It has not been a good few months. India lost the England ODI series and were thrashed in the Tests. Many team members played both series. Scars of those defeats will be carried to the UAE.
PREDICTION – FINAL
The Indian team has enough quality to beat most challengers in this tournament. They should make it to the final as they have a balanced line-up. But they lack the ability to finish things off.
Rohit Sharma (capt), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed
Tuesday, September 18
15:30 India v Hong Kong, Dubai International Cricket Stadium
Wednesday, September 19
15:30 India v Pakistan, Dubai International Cricket Stadium
With the Test series done and dusted, there was been no shortage of drama over the last six weeks as England triumphed 4-1 against India. There have been some exceptional individual displays, moments of brilliance and milestone moments – not to mention the retirement of a true cricketing legend.
Here we look at the five moments that had people talking during the five-match series.
Ben Stokes’ does a ‘Freddie Flintoff’ on final day of Edgbaston Test
The opening Test was evenly poised going into the final day in Birmingham. A total of 194 was the target for India, who resumed 110-5. They had strong hope too given that Virat Kohli was still at the crease. But England and in particular Ben Stokes, had other ideas as the all-rounder rattled the Indian batting order to wrap up a 31-run victory. Bowling with aggression and intelligence, Stokes took the prized scalp of Kohli and then Mohammed Shami. He clinched victory when Hardik Pandya was caught at slip to finish with 4-40 and roll back memories of Freddie Flintoff’s performance in the 2005 Ashes Test.
Virat Kohli lets his bat do the talking
Before a ball was even bowled, the question was whether Virat Kohli would be able to score big runs given his poor record in the 2014 series. Back then over the five-match series, he averaged just under 14. But it was a different story this time round. In fact, he could not have asked for a better start. At Edgbaston, he made England pay for dropped catches to score 149 in his first innings before a half-century in his next. The 29-year-old went on to score another hundred and two more fifties to end the series as the top run-scorer (593) and send out another reminder why he’s the best Test batsman.
Sam Curran rises to the occasion with the bat and ball
There were a few question marks on the inclusion of the 20-year-old but come the end of the series and the all-rounder has well and truly silenced the doubters. In the first Test, Curran took four wickets in the first innings to put England in control before his maiden half-century (63) pretty much was the decisive factor in taking a 1-0 lead. When he was recalled for the Southampton Test after being dropped for Ben Stokes in the third match, Curran picked up where he left off taking two wickets and more importantly his highest Test score of 78 to frustrate the Indians. Although he didn’t play the full five-match series, the future is bright for the Surrey youngster.
The end of an innings for Alastair Cook
All the build-up to the fifth and final Test was about one man – Alastair Cook. The 33-year-old announced his retirement decision just after the Test series was won in Southampton and the focus turned whether England’s best opening batsmen would be able to score a century on his farewell. It didn’t exactly happen in his first innings, falling 29 runs short but there was no mistake next time he took to the field to score 147 and his 33rd Test century. The way England celebrated in the dressing room, India’s guard of honour and the standing ovation of the crowd, told you everything how respected he was within the game.
Jimmy Anderson sets the record straight
When Jimmy Anderson took the wickets of Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan inside the first two overs on the penultimate day of the Oval Test, it looked like it was only a matter of time before he would break Glenn McGrath’s tally for most Test wickets for a seamer. No matter how hard he tried, he was unable to get that historic wicket until an hour before the end of play on Tuesday when he rattled the stumps of Mohammad Shami to claim his 564th Test scalp. His effort wrapped up the 118-run victory and he later confessed he was thrilled to set a new mark when ‘best mate’ Cook was on the field. At 36, he’s showing no signs of slowing down as evident by his 24 wickets in the series.
The tourists were threatening a world-record chase when opener Lokesh Rahul and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant put on 204 for the sixth wicket.
But leg-spinner Rashid got one to pitch outside leg stump and clip the top to remove Rahul for 149.
England went on to win by 118 runs, with James Anderson breaking Glenn McGrath’s record for the most Test wickets by a fast bowler with the game’s final delivery, but Rashid’s ball will also live long in the memory.
Australian Warne’s delivery at Old Trafford back in 1993 – his first in an Ashes Test – also pitched outside leg and clipped the top of Mike Gatting’s off stump.
And former England opener Geoffrey Boycott was quick to compare Rashid’s delivery to Warne’s.
As it happened, BBC Test Match Special pundit Boycott said on air: “Shane Warne ball! It pitched two foot outside leg stump, into the bowler’s footmarks.
“That turned a long, long way. Rahul was just trying to angle it for a single.”
Others using social media also likened Rashid’s delivery to Warne’s, with journalist @StocksC_cricket writing: “Ball of the century MkII.”
Rashid was humble about his delivery when asked about it after the game.
He told TMS: “It did go miles. I was just trying to spin it hard, into the rough. Luckily that went quite a bit and hit the top of off.”
Wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow added to Sky Sports cricket: “That ball from Rash, people talk about balls of the century, that is up there. It has turned about three or four foot, I reckon.”