Asia Cup: India aim to continue winning run (Preview)

Mirpur (Bangladesh), March 2 (IANS) India will aim to maintain their all-win record when they meet minnows United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their final group game of the Asia Cup at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here on Thursday.

India top the pool table with six points after winning all their three matches so far — against hosts Bangladesh, arch-rivals Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The men in blue have assured themselves a place in Sunday’s final after the five-wicket win over the Lankans on Tuesday and even an unlikely defeat against the UAE will not hamper them.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni may decide to make a few changes in the line-up in order to give match practice to some of the players who have not featured in the tournament till now.

“We’ll definitely make a few changes in the coming games. How many we can, that’s something we will have to see. Because we still want the strength and the composition of the side to be very good,” Dhoni told reporters here.

“I think most of the players will definitely get a chance in the next game. Whether all the people who are sitting outside will get a chance, we’re not sure. But we will try to make as many changes as possible,” he added.

The Indian team management may consider including the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Harbhajan Singh, Pawan Negi and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the line-up for the UAE game.

Among the four, Rahane is the one who has the best chance to be selected. The right-hander has been in good form in recent months and may be included in place of the off-colour Shikhar Dhawan.

The Indian think tank may also decide to rest veteran pacer Ashish Nehra in order to keep him fresh for the final. The 36-year-old Nehra has been in excellent form, picking up five wickets. If the Indian team management does decide to rest the Delhi pacer, Bhuvneshwar Kumar may be included in his place.

The spin bowling combination may also witness a change as experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and left-armer Pawan Negi may replace Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for this particular game.

Negi who was the most expensive Indian player during the recent Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, will also be valuable for his ability to produce the big hits lower down the order.

The UAE will look to their captain Amjad Javed to lead from the front. Javed has bagged 12 wickets from the UAE’s six matches in this tournament (including the qualifiers) and will hope to inflict some early blows on the Indian batting.

But the rest of the UAE bowlers are expected to be cannon fodder against the likes of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Dhoni.

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