As the euphoria dies, as the red Dukes ball gets replaced by the white Kookaburra, as the competitive tracks make way for roads and as batsmen start smashing fourth stump line deliveries, it will dawn upon us that it's time to put the India-England Test series behind us. That the batsmen will return with their big willows and hammer the bowlers all over the ground. The Asia Cup is about to begin. So will bowlers' misery.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are the two venues for the 2018 edition and it's a given we will see runs. A lot of them. So with the competition a few days away, let's go through the five batsmen one should look forward to.
Fresh from the England Test snub, the stand-in India skipper will be keen to do what he does the best — excel in the shorter formats. With Virat Kohli absent from the team, Rohit will have to share extra responsibility given that the middle order will see a new combination. Rohit's inconsistency is a cause of worry — if you remove his two tons, he has failed to cross 20 in the last eight innings. But the Indian management wouldn't be too worried given that Rohit can always bounce back.
Shakib Al Hasan
Shakib might not be fully fit, but a half-fit Shakib remains a important part of the squad. He is someone Bangladesh will bank on especially after his successful run against Windies, where he amassed 190 runs in three matches at an average of 47.33. What will make his presence interesting is that is his recent move to the No 3 batting position. With the World Cup hardly a few months away, this tournament will serve as a good platform for Bangladesh to finalise that spot.
Apart from being chirpy behind the stumps, Dickwella is a very threatening opener. Sometimes, Sri Lankan fans might feel like pulling their hair out after seeing some of his shots. But hey, those shots only bring him those runs. When Sri Lanka announced the squad for the Asia Cup, his absence was surprising because he had only two failures in the recently concluded South Africa series. As it turns out, Dinesh Chandimal got injured and Dickwella was drafted back into the squad. The extra motivation to prove a point to his team management might just push him to do well.
Imam Ul Haq
Imam began his ODI career with a ton against Sri Lanka at Abu Dhabi. It was a knock played under tremendous pressure. He was under scrutiny from a certain section of media — as you would expect since he is Inzamam Ul Haq's nephew — which claimed that he made it into the squad as he was the chief selector's nephew. But he silenced the critics with a 100. His recent form, albeit against Zimbabwe, has been promising. With no pressure over his spot in the squad, Imam might just give Pakistan brilliant starts along with Fakhar Zaman.
The last few months have been a roller coaster ride for Rayudu. He topped the batting charts in IPL 2018. Made a comeback into the Indian ODI squad. But the aspirations of wearing the blue jersey again came crashing down when he failed the Yo-Yo test and had to face the embarrassment of being dropped.
However, Rayudu put an end to that disappointment by passing the test and putting in some consistent performances for India A in the Quadrangular series in Bengaluru. With a number of batsmen failing to nail the No 4 spot, Rayudu would be keen to show that he has the experience and the game to end the No 4 debate.