Asia Cup 2018: Kohli irreplaceable but India not a ‘one-man’ team – Dean Jones
Dean Jones feels India have enough firepower to succeed even without Virat Kohli (Getty Images)

Former Australia wicketkeeper Dean Jones feels that Virat Kohli’s absence from the Asia Cup will not affect India’s performance in the tournament. The selectors rested Kohli to preserve him for the series against West Indies and the tour of Australia later this year, but Jones believes that the selected squad has enough talent for India to succeed even without its full-time captain and most prolific batsman.

The Asia Cup begins on September 15 in the UAE with India playing their first match against a qualifier on September 18.

“India are not a one-man team. No one’s going to replace Kohli, but I’ll tell you what, it is an unbelievable opportunity for Pandey, Ambati Rayudu and these boys, and don’t forget MS Dhoni,” Jones told Mid day in an interview.

Rohit Sharma has been named captain in Kohli’s absence. He led India to victory in the Nidahas Trophy in Bangladesh earlier this year and has previously captained in ODIs in late 2017 against Sri Lanka, a series in which he scored his third double-hundred. Manish Pandey last played an ODI in December 2017. Scores of 95*, 21*, 117* and 73* for India B this month have propelled him back into the squad.

Besides batting, Jones is equally excited by India’s bowling stocks. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has recovered from a lower back problem, along with the inclusion of 20-year-old left-arm pacer Khaleel Ahmed. Jasprit Bumrah has also been added after a successful Test return recently.

And in the spin department, Axar Patel has been recalled with legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav retaining their places.

“I think it’s a great team led by Rohit, they got their bowlers right who can reverse swing and at the death, 25-30 overs will be bowled for the spinners. They got [Yuzvendra] Chahal, Kuldeep [Yadav] and Axar Patel bowling beautifully, Jones, who played 52 Tests and 164 ODIs for Australia between 1984 and 1994, said.

“Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar Kumar] and [Jasprit] Bumrah will bowl at the death, they got a very good balance.”

India are placed in Group A of the Asia Cup along with Pakistan and a qualifier. The competition starts with Bangladesh locking horns with Sri Lanka in the opening match. India and Pakistan will face each other on September 19. The last the two teams met was in Champions Trophy final 2017 which Pakistan won.

The previous Asia Cup was a Twenty20 format tournament held in Bangladesh in 2016. The Indian team, under Dhoni, won the title.