India will have a tough task against Srilanka

The subcontinental medley of politics and its effect on the streets was amply displayed here on Monday, but surely the Indian and Sri Lankan teams had no complaints ahead of their Asia Cup game. The ‘Dhaka Cholo’ (March to Dhaka) rally initiated by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party triggered anxieties over security and the two squads stayed back in the hotel. In a way, it was a welcome break for both teams, which have been on the road for a long time and had slugfests in Australia.

The last time, the Men in Blue and the visitors from the Emerald Isle, clashed in a match, Virat Kohli emphasised his growing stature with an unbeaten 133 at Hobart. Over a week that was split between reverence for Rahul Dravid and the search for someone who will step into his huge boots, Kohli’s name has done the maximum rounds, though as personalities there is a vast difference between the cultured legend and the ambitious youngster.

Kohli has been fast-tracked to the vice-captain’s slot and the remarkable evolution in his fortunes has unfortunately not found a reflection in his peers. India will hope to change this trend at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday. With its halo of being the World Cup champion dissipating even before the first anniversary, India has a lot at stake while defending its title in a tournament that has largely been its fiefdom since Sunil Gavaskar held the trophy at Sharjah in 1984.

Virender Sehwag’s absence will give M.S. Dhoni the space to jettison the much-debated rotation policy. Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, who were part of the revolving door during the Commonwealth Bank Series in Australia, will now have a settled run atop the order. In an anaemic run-chart, Gambhir was India’s second highest run-scorer (308) in the CB Series while Tendulkar mustered 143 from seven outings. Tendulkar’s failure to cast his imposing shadow on the field, a facet taken for granted ever since 1989, has hurt India.

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