India skipper Rohit Sharma believes that the upcoming six-nation Asia Cup will give the men in blue yet another opportunity to try for perfect combination before the 2019 World Cup. India are yet to solve their riddle for the perpetual number four conundrum and the stand-in skipper believes that the Asia Cup will be a build-up to next year’s World Cup in England.
“Every team wants to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind. But we shouldn’t be looking too far ahead. Obviously the Asia Cup gives every team an opportunity to get the combination right before the World Cup,” Rohit said at the captains’ press meet ahead of the Asia Cup starting Saturday.
“I won’t understand how Angie (Angelo Mathews), Sarfraz (Ahmed) or Mashrafe (Mortaza) are looking at it and what their strengths and weaknesses are. But as the tournament progresses, we will understand what teams are doing,” he added.
“The World Cup is too far ahead. We will play a lot of games before that. A lot of players will get an opportunity to stake claim for a berth in that World Cup squad. It’s a great opportunity to try for that perfect combination,” Rohit remarked.
Commenting on the highly anticipated clash between India and Pakistan, the captain said, “Pakistan have played some great cricket of late and we are looking forward to that clash. However, by no means I am saying that focus should be on one game as all the games that are going to be played over here will be quite competitive.” “The focus should be on the whole tournament because every nation is eyeing that title. Also for the first time, I am captaining in a full tournament and it’s exciting for me personally,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed also spoke at the press conference and opined that his side have been playing well for the past one year and attributed the success to a well-settled squad.
“I was made the captain before the Champions Trophy and we had a very young team. My job was to give confidence to the young players and the way we won the tournament was a big boost,” Sarfraz said.
“After that Champions Trophy, I met the chief selector (Inzamam) and told him that we don’t want too many changes in the team and that’s how the stability came about. We have got some brilliant young players like Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, who are all improving day by day. Our ODI performance improved once the youngsters came into the system,” said Sarfraz.
“Pakistan have a packed calender going into the World Cup but just like Rohit (Sharma) said we would also like to focus on the Asia Cup for the time being. Then we have the Australia series. We will take it series by series so that when we reach World Cup, we have a fair idea as to where our team stands,” he said.
Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews played down the acrimonious incidents between his side and Bangladesh team during the Nidahas Trophy and said, “Past is past. Now focus will be on playing good cricket. In this tournament, even if you lose one game, you can just be out of the tournament. So we need to focus on each match. As far as World Cup is concerned, it’s too far away and we are not exactly thinking about it right now.”
Hong Kong captain Anshuman Rath stated that his side will not be easy pushovers and want to keep improving against some of the best sides in world cricket.