Former India all-rounder Madan Lal is confident of winning the upcoming six-team Asia Cup, starting on August 30. Team India is the most successful team in the Asia Cup, having won the title seven times in a row. in 2016 and 2018. However, they suffered an embarrassing campaign in the T20I format last year, failing to qualify for the final. The tournament has returned to the 50-over format ahead of the ODI World Cup this year, which starts a fortnight after the Asia Cup.
Despite picking India to win the continental tournament, Madal Lal doesn’t think they are absolute favorites to win the mega event at home. Speaking to Hindustan Times, the 1983 World Cup winner picked a few other teams that could give India a tough fight in the showpiece as well.
Madan Lal said:
“I am sure that they will win the Asia Cup but in World Cup any six teams – Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa… are the 6 top teams. Everybody has a chance. We are playing at home so there is this advantage. But at the same time, it could turn into a disadvantage as well because of pressure. Thankfully, they all are experienced players and know how to handle pressure,”
The last time they played a 50-over World Cup at home in 2011, the Men in Blue emerged victorious. Interestingly, the host nation has won the last three editions of the ODI World Cup, with India’s heroics in 2011 followed by Australia in 2015 and England in 2019.
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“My Concern Will Be The Fitness Levels And Nothing Else” – Madan Lal
Madan Lal admitted his concern over the fitness levels of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who are returning from injury. However, wishing that both had played a few games to go into higher-level competition, their worries ended there.
“My concern will be the fitness levels and nothing else. They are experienced, they have the exposure. Definitely, if they could have played a couple of games, it could have been better in terms of confidence. They could have felt being part of the game and it would have reassured them that they are injury-free,” Madan Lal said.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced Rahul and Iyer in the 17-member squad for the Asia Cup earlier this week. While Iyer suffered a back injury during the Border Gavaskar Trophy, Rahul suffered a thigh injury during the subsequent IPL.
Chief selector Ajit Agarkar confirmed that Iyer has regained full fitness and said that Rahul is still injured and should return to the team from the second or third game of the Asia Cup. The Men in Blue will begin their Asia Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on September 2 at Pallekele.