Embarrassed in South Africa and New Zealand, regional powerhouse India would hope for a turnaround under a new captain when they take on a troubled Bangladesh in their Asia Cup opener on Wednesday.
For the five-time champions India, the build up to the 12th edition of the regional tournament has been quite similar to that of 2012 when they landed here on the back of eight successive Test defeats in England and Australia.
Now they have come here after losing to South Africa 0-1 in Tests and 0-2 in ODIs. They suffered similar humiliation at the hands of New Zealand. The world champion side capped their two overseas tours with four successive defeats in One dayers.
However, playing against an opponent, who are struggling with their own set of problems and against whom they enjoy a good record, India would hope to finally notch up their first win in the 2014 calender.
Bangladesh’s attacking opener Tamim Iqbal has been ruled out of the event because of a neck strain and their all-rounder Shakib-Al-Hasan will also miss the action against India due to his two-match ban for showing lewd gestures on live TV.
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 T20Is against Sri Lanka earlier this month.
Adding to the woes, the host nation clearly did not give a happy picture with selection-related controversy marring the their 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 Indian batting mainstay as India would take solace from the fact that the stylish right hander’s average against Bangladesh is a staggering 122.
Kohli, who totals 732 with four hundreds and three fifties, was the leading run-getter in the last Asia Cup, including tournament’s highest 185 against Pakistan.
After being made the captain as Dhoni’s replacement 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 Asia Cup may prove to be his biggest challenge as games continued…
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