Dubai: Indian skipper Rohit Sharma loves challenges — be it thrown at him while batting or when captaining the side.
Faced with the question whether the heat or the Hong Kong team would be a bigger challenge when his team play their opening game in the Asia Cup on Tuesday, Sharma said: “A lot of the guys have come from England and for them it is going to be a challenge. For rest of us, we have been here for four days and I can probably say that we are very much used to the conditions but still without a doubt, it is going to be tough conditions out there. It is game time now and we have to focus on it rather than the conditions.”
Watch: Indian players arrive to ICC Academy for a practice session:
Video by: K.R. Nayar
Hong Kong lost their opening match to Pakistan by eight wickets on Sunday but India will not take them easily. “We are treating every team as equal. We are not looking at the opposition. We are looking at what we want to do as a team and improve as a team. A lot of games are coming up for us, including the big World Cup so it is important to focus as a team, on what we want to do as individuals rather than focusing on the opposition. So for us, it’s important that we focus on what we need to do as a team.”
Sharma candidly admitted that he is nervous. “I’ve captained before but this is a big tournament for me. I’m excited, yet a little nervous too. It’s important to understand the players, I’ve played with a lot of these boys before and I’m looking forward to it.”
Sharma also said that the conditions here are not too familiar for the team. “The last time we played here was at the Indian Premier League in 2014. It’s been a long time since we have played at this venue, so tomorrow is a perfect chance to understand conditions, wickets, dimensions of the ground and all those kind of things. It’s important to understand all of that and take it into your game.
“The last two games, the wickets didn’t look too bad. We know because of the conditions they will get slower, we may have to adapt to that and based on conditions, we may have to play our XI. Looking at the pitches and all that, we have the perfect combination and guys who can do the job.”
Noting that India getting to play all their matches in Dubai stadium was an advantage, he said: “This tournament doesn’t give you any chance to make a mistake. You’ve got to be at it all the time. Playing at the same venue is an advantage but every opposition is different and you’ve to plan accordingly. You can’t go with the same strategy and mindset as you go with Hong Kong tomorrow and day after with Pakistan. You have to change your team dynamics, the way you play, the strategy, bowling changes, batting orders etc. Right now I’ll say we have bit of advantage, but you’ve to play good cricket to win the game.”
When asked where Lokesh Rahul will bat, Sharma said: “I can’t give you who is going to bat where. There are lot of spots up for grabs — No. 3, 4, 6 — all those positions are up for grabs. All the guys are eyeing that. I will have to go back and see what the best combination can be for the series. Obviously, we want to give as many chances as possible to the guys to make sure the No. 4 and 6 spot are sealed.”
To a query about 20-year debutant left — arm pacer Khaleel Ahmad. Sharma said: “I am quite excited about Khaleel. He is a great variation to squad. He generates quite a bit of pace. He’s young, quite talented and can swing the ball as well at the same time. I am quite excited of his addition to the squad. From whatever I’ve seen of him, he can get batsmen into trouble.”