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Monday, June 14, 2010

Asia Cup - here we come

AsiaImage via Wikipedia
The Asia Cup starts on 15th June - one more of those tournaments started by regional boards. Not sure why there is no Australasia Cup or African Cup. Hold on - there is an Afro-Asian Cup - does not matter if it is not being pursued still.

Anyway, this tournament is being played regularly for some time now. The first edition still stands out - India winning the first version in 1983/84, thanks to a relative newcomer by name Surinder Khanna!!!  The last Cup saw the Indians succumb to the guiles of veteran Sanath Jayasuriya & a newcomer (then), Ajantha Mendis.

This time around, the Indians again go as favorites (even though they did not qualify for the tri-series final in Zimbabwe) to Sri Lanka - the seniors have had their share of rest and must be eager to retain the trophy after 15 years. Sachin Tendulkar is the only missing star in the line-up with the Board heeding his request for time to be with his children. Yuvraj Singh has been dropped on fitness and form, giving a chance to the others like Rohit Sharma to claim their ticket to a permanent slot.

The bowling looks better than what has been in recent days, even though Zaheer Khan can do his bit to rise his average from the current close-to-30. Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar also average 30+, which is usually not associated with players who played for some time now. Dinda will now have a chance to see the veterans and learn new tricks. Harbhajan Singh will be back to lead the attack - though I dont think that is something to cherish. He, like the others, averages 30+ and must be itching to show his wares. Pragyan Ojha and Ashwin might get chances against the lower teams as well as pick up tips from Bhajji.

The batting department is bolstered by the returns of Sehwag and Gambhir at the top. It was here in Sri Lanka, that both of them gave good starts in the test series after the last Asia Cup. They will do well to remember the series and repeat their performances. Is Sehwag fine with his form, will be the question on everyone's mind? Dhoni comes to the middle order to support Raina, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravinder Jadeja. The latter seems to have gained in standing, compared to Yusuf Pathan in Zimbabwe. A good chance for the youngsters to prove themselves. Tiwary, just like Dinda, will gain a lot from observing the seniors closely.

How will the Indians perform? A final seems to be on cards but will they suffer the final-blues once again? Let us see. What is your prediction?
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