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India favourites to win Asia Cup: Akram

Press Trust Of India
Mar 11, 2012 at 10:53am IST

New Delhi: India might be completely down and out after their dismal show in the recently-concluded tour of Australia but former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram feels that MS Dhoni and Co. would still start as favourites in the Asia Cup, starting Sunday in Mirpur.

"After their CB Series run, the Lankans will be upbeat.

"If Pakistan can play as a team, then they are unbeatable. But India remain the best team on paper. They have the depth in batting, the variety in bowling.

India favourites to win Asia Cup: Akram

The former Pakistan captain also believes the tournament in Bangladesh will be thrilling.

"In their last game in the CB Series against the Lankans, India showed what they are capable of. When a team chases 320 runs and wins with seven wickets and 80 balls to spare against a quality opposition, it acts like an elixir. Will this tonic boost India in Dhaka? Probably," said Akram.

The former fast bowling legend though added that it is going to be a thrilling championship as India will be desperately looking to come back to winning ways against the likes of Sri Lanka who are high on confidence after their recent show in CB Series in Australia, and Pakistan who are unpredictable as ever.

"MS Dhoni and Co. will certainly look to overturn their topsy-turvy performance in the just-concluded CB Series in Australia and Sri Lanka have shown the world what they are capable of. Add to this Pakistan's susceptibility to surprise on any given day means the Asia Cup has all the ingredients to become a thrilling championship," said Akram.

He also said it would be interesting to see how Dhoni, Mahela Jayawardene and Misbah-ul Haq lead their teams.

"All three are capable men but right now, Mahela is the best captain in the world. Mahela's captaincy in the CB Series was astute and he is a leader any country would love to have.

I want to see how he leads the Lankans in Asia Cup.

"In ODIs, if you want to take wickets, then you have to put pressure on the opposition and that's Mahela's beauty. He knows where to deploy his fielders and when to attack. He is natural leader who has matured with time," Akram was quoted as saying by espnstar.com.

Comparing Dhoni with Jayawardene, Akram said, "Mahela and Dhoni are different captains. Dhoni is a wicketkeeper it is difficult for him to guide the fast bowlers all the time.

"But Mahela fields at mid-on or mid-off and is constantly chatting with his bowlers and changing fields. Mahela is very attacking in nature and is always looking for breakthroughs."

The 45-year old said he would be keen to watch the Indian team without its hard-hitting opener Virender Sehwag.

"It will be interesting to see an Indian team without Virender Sehwag. Numerous stories on Sehwag's 'dropping' have done the rounds in the media but in my book, Sehwag is too good a batsman to be ignored. If he is short on fitness, then it is another thing, but Sehwag remains a dangerous customer on sub-continental conditions," said Akram.

"Having said that, Sehwag needs to change the way he deals with his career at the age of 34. With Rahul Dravid gone and Sachin Tendulkar unlikely to prolong his ODI career, Sehwag needs to play the role of an elder statesman in the team.

"Dhoni remains India's best leader at the moment and sooner Sehwag realises this, the better. Hence, Sehwag needs to be at peace with him, focus purely on his fitness and the runs shall follow. In cricket, only performance matters and if Sehwag scores the runs he can, fans will automatically adore him," he added.

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