Dhaka, Mar 12: India open their Asia Cup defence against Sri Lanka at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Tuesday. Captain MS Dhoni and his men will be hoping for a winning start to the tournament after having failed to make the finals of the tri-series in Australia recently.
Compared to the tri-series in Australia, this tournament involving Asia's top four sides, is a shorter one. Each team will face the other only once and top two will clash in the final on March 22.
It is important for India to begin on a victorious note. A loss in the opener could prove costly. Dhoni knows that fact.
"Over the years the format has changed in the sense now there are four good sides. It is a very short series, and it is very important to start with a positive note because it's not very often that you play in a tournament where all the Asian countries are playing together," Dhoni said.
India will be much more stronger in Asian conditions. But the other teams are also familiar of the pitches.
Young Virat Kohli will start a new phase in his international career as he has been handed the vice-captaincy duties. He was the best batsman of Australian tour. Kohli will be hoping to continue that form.
Invariably, the attention will again turn to Sachin Tendulkar as he chases his 100th international ton. This is his best chance to reach the milestone.
Virender Sehwag has been rested and Dhoni feels he will be missed. The captain hoped Yusuf Pathan will get into the attacker's role in Sehwag's absence.
"Unfortunately he's (Virender Sehwag) not there. We will miss him, he is one of the most dangerous openers. But this means we have one space in the playing eleven right now. It may go to somebody like Yusuf Pathan so that we can balance the flair and the firepower and the stability that's needed.
"I think it's an opportunity for someone like a Yusuf or a Ravindra Jadeja to do well and grab that number six position," Dhoni said.
Dhoni wanted the team to be consistent in Asia Cup. "It's not that we have done really badly. Of course, we had a patch where we have not done consistently well. Especially when it comes to the ODI format, I think we have done quite well. So we are hoping that we will stick to it and be consistent throughout the tournament," Dhoni said.
India will also be without Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav. Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar and Irfan Pathan are the fast bowlers while Ravichandran Ashwin and Rahul Sharma take care of spin department.
India and Sri Lanka met four times in Australia. India won two and lost one while the other game was tied.
Sri Lanka will be in a confident mood after reaching the tri-series finals.
"The intensity (of the CB series) was really high because we were performing at a very high level. Even though we lost the finals I thought the commitment of the players and the energy level was very good," Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena said.
"International cricket is such now, you need to adapt very quickly mentally and physically to the schedules that we have," he added while commenting on the schedule.
Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Dinesh Chandimal along with Jayawardene will lead the Islanders' batting.
Lasith Malinga and Nuwan Kulasekara will share bowling responsibilities.
India: MS Dhoni (captain), Virat Kohli (vice-captain), Gautam Gambhir, Sachin Tendulkar, Manoj Tiwary, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ashok Dinda, Ravindra Jadeja, Praveen Kumar, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Rahul Sharma, Vinay Kumar.
Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Angelo Mathews, Dinesh Chandimal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suranga Lakmal, Farveez Maharoof, Lasith Malinga, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachithra Senanayake, Upul Tharanga, Lahiru Thirimanne.
Umpires: Steve Davis (Australia) and Ian Gould (England)
Third Umpire: Shozab Raza (Pakistan)
Match Referee: David Boon (Australia)
Match stars at 1.30 PM IST
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