Asia Cup 2018: Rohit Sharma fortunate to have MS Dhoni around, feels Sunil Gavaskar
Gavaskar: "Dhoni’s experience is a priceless commodity that’s impossible to quantify and his guidance of the young spinners is legendary." @Getty

The presence of the vastly experienced MS Dhoni will be a “priceless commodity” for India’s stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma during the 2018 Asia Cup, believes Sunil Gavaskar.

In the absence of the rested Virat Kohli, India are led by Rohit in the six-nation tournament in the UAE where they play Hong Kong today followed by Pakistan on Wednesday – the scheduling of which left Gavaskar somewhat miffed.

“India have a great mix of youth and experience and their skipper Rohit Sharma loves the 50-over format and will look to add a couple of tons to his record. He is fortunate to have MS Dhoni besides him to guide him during tough times,” wrote the former India captain in his Times of India column. “Dhoni’s experience is a priceless commodity that’s impossible to quantify and his guidance of the young spinners is legendary.”

India have been camped in Dubai for five days ahead of their Asia Cup opener versus Hong Kong, and a day later face Pakistan in a highly-anticipated match which pits the two arch-rivals against each other for the first time since the ICC Champions Trophy final in June 2017. Rohit addressed the issues of playing back-to-back games in oppressive conditions yesterday, and Gavaskar queried the logic if successive fixtures for India.

“India’s first game against Hong Kong will be a nice warmup for the sterner battle the next day against Pakistan,” he wrote. “How the organisers scheduled two back-to-back games for India — with the second game being against Pakistan — is hard to understand, but that’s the way it is. Hong Kong have got to the Emirates after a hard-fought qualifying event, beating some other fancied associate teams in the bargain. They were overwhelmed by Pakistan in their first game and will now be looking to better their efforts against India. Normally India would like to bat first to give their batsmen valuable game time, but because they play Pakistan the very next day, they would like to finish the game early and reserve energy for that much-anticipated encounter.”

Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav remind Gavaskar of India's great spin quartet of the 70s.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav remind Gavaskar of India’s great spin quartet of the 70s.

Gavaskar also singled out the wrist-spinning pair of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal who have enjoyed much success together in limited-overs cricket of the past 18 months.

“India’s batting is generally the star attraction but this time around the variety they have in their bowling is also worth going miles to see,” he wrote. “The two wrist-spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, in their different ways pick wickets regularly and then the way they rush to congratulate each other is reminiscent of the great spin quartet of the 70s, who also took great delight in each other’s success.”

The Asia Cup marks a return to ODIs for India after five Tests in England. A strong tournament, felt Gavaskar, would give the fans reason to cheer again. “India start their campaign to win not just the Asia Cup but also the fans they have lost after the recent tour of England,” he wrote. “The high expectations from the English tour were belied and so some disenchantment that has crept in. A solid winning performance in the Asia Cup will make up greatly for that and win back those who were ready to turn their backs on India cricket.”