Asia Cup: All eyes on Sachin Tendulkar

At the Indian training session in Dhaka, all eyes were mainly on three players -Sachin Tendulkar, and the two new faces Yusuf Pathan, coming back to the one-day squad after the tour of the West Indies last year, and Ashok Dinda, returning after a dazzling domestic season, says a report in Hindustan Times.

“Tendulkar's long session with the bat, first at the nets adjacent to the indoor training facility prolonged by throw-downs at the Bangladesh Cricket Board Academy area across the ground, was a hit with the local media. Pathan was in the nets early but sparks didn't exactly fly. The very slow practice wickets also made it difficult for Pathan to play his shots. It could even force skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to have a rethink on whether Pathan can be effective here,” says the report.

“We unfortunately don't have Virender Sehwag here. He is dangerous for any bowling attack upfront. Yusuf Pathan is capable of destroying attacks and he could be a factor here,“ Dhoni had said at the press conference on Saturday. On Sunday, Dhoni was more interested to know whether there would be dew in the evening.

According to a report in The Indian Express, at a time when retirement talk is rife, an attention-seeking news flash the previous day about Sachin Tendulkar’s decision to quit One Day Internationals turned out to be water-cooler talk as the man himself went through a rigorous practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Sunday. Tendulkar had briefly entertained thoughts of issuing a clarification, but changed his mind to focus instead on the match on Tuesday. The rumour-mongering nevertheless adds further pressure on Tendulkar who is already weighed down by the burden of an impending milestone.

“Monday, interestingly, will mark one year to the day since the soon-to-be-39-year-old batsman scored his last international century (No.99), 111 against South Africa in Nagpur during the World Cup. In Bangladesh, he will get at least three outings to reach what has turned into an excruciatingly elusive three-figure mark,” says the report.

Meanwhile The Times Of India writes that the Asia Cup is merely the first station on the road to redemption, but MS Dhoni’s men know they can’t put a foot wrong in the 12-day event. The situation is more desperate for the Men in Blue than for the Sri Lankans, who kept themselves away from practice for the second day at a stretch, trying to recover from the rigours of the gruelling tour Down Under.

“The Indian team meant business in the three-hour long practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium nets on Sunday. A loss against SriLanka on Tuesday can push the Indians into a sudden-death scenario in the next two games and Dhoni just doesn’t want to take any chances,” says the report.
Meanwhile, Umar Gul had a perfect day both with the bat and the ball as Pakistan overcame some nervous moments to win the opening match of the Asia Cup against Bangladesh by 21 runs here tonight.

According to The Tribune report, chasing a possible 263 for a win, Bangladesh started cautiosly and opener Tamim Iqbal and Shakib-al-Hasan hit fighting half-centuries, but they ultimatley ran out of ideas and batsmen as the Pakistan bowlers took charge. Gul was the pick of the lot as his earlier heroics with the bat had bailed out Pakistan from a precarious situation and later he cleaned up Shakib to wrap up the proceedings.
Earlier, Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed struck half centuries but it was Umar Gul's hefty blows towards the end that lifted Pakistan to 262 for eight.