The 2018 edition of the Asia Cup is round the corner and the teams from the subcontinent will be lining up to face each other in the next few days looking to get themselves past the group stage of the tournament. The tournament, which will be played in the guidelines of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup to be held in England and Wales in the following year, will be held in various venues of the UAE after the BCCI had to shift the tournament outside India owing to the political situation involving Pakistan.
India will be facing Pakistan and Hong Kong in the group stages of the tournament, also involving Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Indian skipper Virat Kohli has been rested for the tournament after a two month long tour of England, which ended with India losing 4-1 in the test series, keeping in mind the tours to Australia and New Zealand to be held later in the year.
Former Indian batsman, coach and selection committee member Sandip Patil feels that it would be particularly unfair for the team, who will be missing the services of their regular skipper in the six-nation tournament. Patil also reckons that the world number 1 ranked batsman’s absence might hurt India’s chances of winning the Asia Cup, especially with the presence of strong teams of the stature of current Champions Trophy holders Pakistan.
“I do agree that players’ workload should be taken into account but when it comes to India-Pakistan matches – in which the cricket-loving people of India get so emotionally and sentimentally involved – it makes it difficult to understand why such a decision was made,” Patil wrote in his column for The Quint. “I don’t blame Virat Kohli but my question again is that there are thirty plus players under contract for the BCCI and all of them play equal number of matches and share equal amount of workload, then why single out Virat Kohli?” Patil added.
The 62-year old cited the example of the legendary Kapil Dev, who was subject to tremendous workload right from a young age throughout the span of his international career and yet never never thought of taking a day off the field with his team still playing.
“I was talking to the great Kapil Dev, whose workload started at an early age and never finished till he retired. He used to bowl not only long spells in matches – and the matches included Tests, ODIs, domestic cricket and also games for employers he was representing – he used to also bowl from the first batsman till the last batsman in practice sessions, without taking break,” Patil mentioned.
“He told me that in his entire career, he never ever thought of taking even a one day break. He just wanted to bowl, bat and field. He took great pride in representing India and perform for India and so did the other players of my generation. Has cricket changed so much that today’s Indian players who are so fit and focused can’t take the workload?” he added.
“My argument is that when we have number one batsman in the world who is in brilliant form, has taken Indian cricket to another level and has the ability to conquer the cricketing world, Virat Kohli should have been informed by the selectors about the importance of leading and winning the Asia Cup,” the former cricketer opined.
“Another thought is that maybe selectors may have let Virat rest this month so they can see what this Indian team does without him. The opportunity has been given to Rohit Sharma to lead the team and see if they can rise to the occasion for a time when Virat is not available to play. But again, why take a chance? We ourselves are making things difficult by making such decisions.” the 62-year old remarked.
India begin their campaign in the Asia on September 18 before playing Pakistan on the very next day in their second clash of the group stages. India will start the tournaments as one of the favourites despite the absence of regular skipper Virat Kohli. Stand in skipper Rohit Sharma will be leading the team in the tournament and left handed opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan will be his deputy.