After crashing out, Kohli & Co aim to end campaign on a positive note
Mirpur (Bangladesh): All but eliminated from the race to final, a demoralised India would look to sign off their disastrous Asia Cup campaign on a positive note when they take on spirited debutantes Afghanistan in their last round-robin league match on Tuesday.
Hit hard by successive defeats, India will be eyeing a bonus point win over Afghanistan to boost their sagging morale in what has been a depressing campaign for the record five-time champions.Four-time champions Sri Lanka have already sealed their final berth cruising to a third consecutive win, this time with a bonus point against Afghanistan last night. But it’s not going to be easy for the Indians who look vulnerable without regular skipper MS Dhoni as that winning edge has been 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 a victory and loss.
It will be once again a test of the Indian batting against minnows Afghanistan who have been a revelation in this tournament putting up an impressive show especially with their pace bowling.They have a potent pace attack in the Zadran duo of Shapoor and Dawlat and the left-right combination bring in the variety to fast bowling.
Spin department also has the variety in the trio of skipper Mohammad Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari and Hamza Hotak.
Nabi gets vicious turn with his off-spin, while Shenwari has that acute leg-breaks making 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 at the big stage when they downed Bangladesh by 32 runs for their maiden victory against a Test-playing nation after four matches.Afghanistan’s bowlers would look to primarily target Kohli. 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 brought in the spark in the Indian side but unfortunately it has not been translated into wins, 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 against Bangladesh. Since then, Kohli has not been able to put up big runs and India have lost on both occasions.
The Indian specialist batsmen in Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Ambati Rayudu have shown spark with half-centuries but their failure to make it big have proved to be the difference. Sharma looked fluent giving India a flying start in their match against Pakistan but only to be guilty of throwing his wicket after scoring a half century to bring the run-rate down.
It was Ambati Rayudu’s 58 from 62 balls followed by Ravindra Jadeja’s unbeaten 52 from 42 balls that gave the Indian total some respectability. Rayudu, who has been preferred over the 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 would be two positive aspects.At the same time, Dinesh Karthik’s shoddy work behind the wickets has hurt India badly after.
Team putting in lot of effort, assures Rayudu
Mirpur: Despite the demoralising defeats against Sri Lanka and Pakistan, India middle order batsman Ambati Rayudu put his weight behind stand-in-skipper Virat Kohli and his teammates, saying that the captain as well as the team is putting in as much effort as they could.
“He has been learning a lot from Dhoni bhai. He has been very proactive and did a fantastic job against Pakistan. Although we have been losing, we are putting in a lot of effort,” Rayudu told reporters on the eve of their last round-robin tie against Afghanistan.
“We have been learning a lot as you have seen, the games have been extremely close. We are putting heart into it and that is all we can do as cricketers,” he added.”We would like to go out there tomorrow and win with a bonus point and see what happens. We are just bothered to go and win with a bonus point. We will analyse it after today’s match.
“They (Afghanistan) are a very good bowling side as we have seen in the competition. We just need to keep our head down and make sure we get runs,” Rayudu said.