Asia Cup:A Two Way Battle?

Prthvir SolankiCorrespondent IJune 27, 2008

This article is a sequel to my preview of the Asia Cup titled 'Asia Cup:A Three Way Battle for the cup?'

So we are six matches into the Asia Cup and India, who were the favourites to win, look like they are playing against minnows and i am not only talking about Hong Kong. India got off to a blistering start against them scoring 374 in their allotted overs and humbled Hong Kong by 256 runs. In the other matches, Bangladesh looked very good against UAE, Pakistan were lucky that Tanvir and Alam were in the team, and Sri Lanka looked like defending champs against Bangladesh.

Now, in the second round, obviously Bangladesh and Hong Kong played their two matches and it will not be needed to mention them, two teams showed their consistency and i mean this in the bad sense of terms. UAE  can be forgiven but Pakistan just got beaten, battered and destroyed at home against India. After having a slow start, captain Shoaib Malik stood up and scored his first century as captain and Younis Khan continued his good form against India but because everyone around them collapsed, they could not manage more than 299, but still, it was a very good(i cant say fantastic, thanks to T20) score. While Sehwag got off to a sluggish start, Gambhir was middling the ball as if he were playing there for a long time. Then the major, major setback for Pakistan when, after bowling eight balls, Umar Gul had to be taken off because of an injury in his rib cage. Rao Ifthikar was then given the ball and had to ball in place of Gul. Not an ideal replacement you would think but before you would think more, Misbah caught a blinder at the short gully area and Gambhir departed. After that its history. Raina and Sehwag played with such ease, i wanted to put on my gloves and pads and face the bowlers. A match which you would have thought might be a close one was finished by Dhoni's boys with 47 balls to spare and also gave India's first win against Pakistan in the Asia Cup in 20 years. All i can say is Pakistan looked dumbfounded. The other match was a display of UAE's talent but the went down by quiet a large margin against Sri Lanka.

India by far looks the strongest and the most eager team to win the Asia Cup. You could see that the Pakistan and Sri Lankan players took the minnows lightly but India practiced hard even for a match against Hong Kong. After India's win, i dont think Pakistan look like they can win this by any margin. That is why i feel this has turned into a two way battle now. We cant judge Sri Lanka properly as they have not got a chance to play against the Indians or Pakistanis.

Into the super four, and India start off against Bangladesh today. No guesses to who are going to win and I read an article where Dhoni might test his bench strength today. He might be taking a big risk but nowadays whatever Dhoni does is God-like for example his move to send Raina at number three against Pakistan.

I have changed my final prediction. Its India vs Sri Lanka but that does not mean that Pakistan are forgotten. They may be down but surely they are not out.