Pakistan may win the Asia Cup and India may not still reach its final. That’s how the situation remained even after Virat Kohli’s spectacular 183 off 148 balls that helped the Indians reach the stiff target of 330 with 13 deliveries remaining.
The scenario is not much different to the one at Hobart, Australia, a little while ago. India had needed a massive win over Sri Lanka in their last league outing to stay afloat which they did achieve, mainly due to the heroics of Kohli.
Despite the sensational victory at Hobart India’s fate had depended on the outcome of the Australia-Sri Lanka. Not surprisingly the Sri Lankans prevailed over the hosts to send India home early.
Sri Lanka can spoil the party for the Indians once more, having done it so many times in the past. India will exit from the Asia Cup if Banglalesh defeats Sri Lanka in the last league fixture of the tournament. It’s not the question of claiming a bonus point. Bangladesh will walk into the final only if they win their last game.
India would have paid the price of what looked like having gifted the match to Bangladesh in the process of securing 100th international ton for Sachin Tendulkar, if they are denied a place in the final even after having overpowered Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
India’s successful run chase against Pakistan on March 18 underlined the growing confidence of their young guns and the uncertainty in the minds of the old guard. Now Tendulkar, with nearly every batting record under his belt, has to play second fiddle to Kohli.
The enigmatic left-hander Gautam Gambhir somehow got a hundred in the opening game but he flopped miserably in the following two matches. He has already lost the vice-captaincy and if he contunues to fare inconsistently he could well be thrown out of the team too.
The promising youngsters like Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina have sit on the sidelines for quite a while in order to accommodate the veterans but now the time has come to move forward and bring about a change in policy.
With Kohli having matured into a top-class batsman, the Indian selectors need to be brave in giving longer runs to the likes of Sharma and Raina to let them get the feel of playing in all sorts of circumstances.
The Indian batsmen may be vulnerable to the short balls on the bouncy or seaming tracks but they seem to be in total control when playing on the docile sub-coninental pitches where the ball barely rises and hardly ever moves, particularly with the majority of the games being day-nighters.
That’s how they chased down the target of 330 with remarkable ease against Pakistan at Dhaka under floodlights. That’s why their inability to score briskly in the previous game against Bangladesh looked strange and raised questions. Isn’t it incredible that they managed scores in the excess of 300 against stronger and more resourceful bowling attacks of Pakistan and Sri Lanka but failed to do so against the hosts.
Team Stokes 233/10 & 157/4 * v Team Buttler 200/6 & 287/5 - Team Stokes 233/10 & 157/4 * v Team Buttler 200/6 & 287/5
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