Asia Cup 2018: Ahead of Hong Kong clash, skipper Rohit Sharma says India will look to seal middle order slots

India captain Rohit Sharma Monday admitted that the team's middle-order is still fluid and their objective will be to identify players for the number four and six slot during the Asia Cup.

Press Trust of India, September 17, 2018

Dubai: India captain Rohit Sharma Monday admitted that the team's middle-order is still fluid and their objective will be to identify players for the number four and six slot during the Asia Cup.

India will start their Asia Cup campaign against minnows Hong Kong on Tuesday followed by the big game against Pakistan.

However, the problem for India during the past one year is the lack of a settled middle-order, which was evident during the recent ODI series defeat in England.

Rohit Sharma will be leading the Indian team in the Asia Cup in the absence of Virat Kohli. AP

Rohit Sharma will be leading the Indian team in the Asia Cup in the absence of Virat Kohli. AP

Rohit made it clear that the likes of Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu are fighting for the key middle-order slots.

"Lot of spots are up for grabs like Nos 3, 4 and 6. All these guys (Kedar, Manish, Rayudu) are eyeing for those slots. We want to give chances to as many guys for this particular series. In this tournament, we need to seal the batting slot Nos 4 and 6," Rohit said on the eve of the lung opener against Hong Kong.

Rohit's answer was an indication that Mahendra Singh Dhoni will bat at number five.

Ambati Rayudu is back in the Indian team having cleared the YoYo test and he also performed well in the Quadrangular series for India A. Kedar Jadhav is back having recovered from a hamstring surgery.

"They are both important members of this team. Rayudu was originally part of England series and similarly Kedar before his injury. It was unfortunate that they couldn't play for some time and I am very happy that both are back in the team. I expect them to win matches for India," said Rayudu.

Rohit didn't reveal whether he was open to rotating bowlers in this searing Dubai heat but did say that performers should be given a longer run.

"I haven't thought about it right now. We want to see how each individual react to different situations. At the same time, we want to give chance to as many guys as possible but also give more opportunities to those who are consistent. We would see how individuals respond to conditions and take decisions accordingly," said Rohit.

Mohammad Amir and Usman Khan in Asia Cup and Mitchell Starc in Australia are some of the left-armers that India will be encountering in their next few assignments and that's why left-arm throwdown specialist Nuwan Seneviratne from Sri Lanka has been roped in.

The skipper seemed impressed having faced him in the nets.

"We saw him in Sri Lanka and we already have two right-handed throwdown experts (Raghu and Sanjay Bangar). We will play in Australia and even in Asia Cup, where will face a few left-armers. It is a great move BCCI and is quite accurate with what he does. He is a great addition to our team."

He was all praise for little-known left-arm seamer Khaleel Ahmed, who has been included in the team more for variation than domestic performance, which has been ordinary at best.

"He is a great addition and has tools to succeed at the highest level," the skipper said.

Having had a look at the match strip, Rohit's assessment is that it will get slower as the game progresses.

"The wicket isn't that bad. It's going to get slower and slower as the match progresses. The first match we need to figure out the dimension of the ground and things like that," he added.

More than Hong Kong, it is the change in climate that might bother the players, coming from the cooler confines of English weather.

"It will be a challenge as a lot of our guys are coming from England. Some of us have been here for four days now and we are getting used to it."

About Hong Kong, the answer was on predictable lines.

"We are treating every opposition equally. We are looking at what we want to do as a team and if we do that a lot of worries and issues will take care of itself. Yes, the conditions are not going to be that easy. But it's game time now and we have to focus on the match."

On a personal note, Rohit is excited as well as nervous as this is the biggest tournament for him as India captain.

"I am excited as well as nervous. It is a big tournament for me. I know all the boys well. I understand them well which is necessary," he signed off.

Updated Date: Sep 17, 2018







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