At Kazi Nazrul Islam Avenue in Dhaka, they revel in traffic commotion. Vehicles move at snail’s pace and for the outsiders, it’s always a test of patience. The locals, however, don’t complain, for the traffic chaos signifies normalcy. During ferment, the buzz evaporates and life comes to a halt which was the case here just a few months ago.
There was a big question mark over Bangladesh hosting the Asia Cup but peace descended on the eastern part of Bengal just in time for the cricket season and the tournament was given the go-ahead by the Asian Cricket Council.
For India, however, the question marks don’t end with the staging of the event. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s eleventh hour withdrawal, owing to a side strain, has thrown his new age successor, Virat Kohli, in at the deep end. Not just as captain, but as the leader in the batting order as well. After back-to-back series losses in South Africa and New Zealand, India’s every move on conducive pitches against fellow Asian giants will be under microscopic scrutiny.
Kohli’s winning percentage as India captain is better than his batting strike rate of 89.48 in One Day Internationals. So far, he has led eight times and won seven. Five of those wins, however, came against Zimbabwe during India’s tour of the southern African nation last year. The Asia Cup, however, which would be underway from Tuesday (India’s first match is on Wednesday), throws up a completely different challenge.
Both defending champions Pakistan and Sri Lanka, would be keen on having an upper hand over an Indian team that is low on confidence. India need Kohli to fire with the bat to help his unit get back to the winning ways. And then there’s the added responsibility of leading his troop.
On Sunday, at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, the Delhi lad looked rather tired at the team’s arrival press conference. He played down the captaincy issue, saying that he’s doing the job for “just one series” and is not unnecessarily putting himself under pressure.
“Yes, it’s a big tournament, my first as a captain and I’m looking forward to it. I don’t think I have to do things differently. I don’t really look into something unless I am appointed which is the case right now in this tournament,” Kohli said. Some former cricketers, people who have been there and done that, believe that the make-shift role shouldn’t prevent him from asserting his authority.
“Virat should continued…