India became the first team to reach the final of the 2016 Asia Cup T20, after their victory over Sri Lanka at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Tuesday. India have been the best team in the competition by some distance.
With such a winning momentum, India will face the weakest team in the competition, UAE, at the same venue, Thursday. India should win the match with ease and carry their unbeaten run into the final of the Asia Cup.
MS Dhoni's men defeated Australia and Sri Lanka in their last T20 series and another victory here in the Asia Cup will keep them in good stead ahead of the World T20, which starts from March 9. India are favourites for the World T20 as well.
The India-UAE clash is a dead rubber and Dhoni is expected to make some changes to the team and give some players the much-needed rest, for they have been playing a lot of cricket in the recent past.
Virat Kohli was the only player, who was given rest in the India-Sri Lanka T20 series, while the home series squad against the Islanders was almost the same as that played against Australia. So, bowlers such as Ashish Nehra might be given a rest, as he has been their best bowler with the new ball. Leaving him out of the match against the UAE will also mean a fresh and dangerous Nehra for the final, which is going to help Team India.
The India batsmen might not have scored freely in the Asia Cup, as the conditions have favoured the seamers, but some of their batsmen such as Kohli and Yuvraj Singh have delivered. Though the team might want to make some changes, they can also use this match as an opportunity for the top order, including Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, to get back to their scoring ways.
Rohit, after an impressive start against Bangladesh, where he notched 83 runs, has failed in the last two innings, with 0 and 15. Dhawan has been poor, scoring a total of just three runs in the Asia Cup so far. The match against UAE could help them get back to form.
The UAE will use this opportunity to play against one of the best sides in world cricket. It is a huge chance for these players to shine and show that they are also an upcoming side in world cricket.
They have lost all their matches so far and are not expected to even pull a surprise, with India in blistering from. Though India are favourites, some of the UAE players should be pumped up to face the 2007 World T20 champions. Some of these players might never get a chance to bowl to Kohli or bat against R Ashwin in the near future.
The UAE have given all teams a tough fight, but their biggest test lies against India. Can they make a match out of it?
Asia Cup: India vs United Arab Emirates schedule
Date: Thursday, March 3
Time: 7.30 p.m. local time (7 p.m. IST, 5.30 pm GST, 6.30 p.m. PKT, 1.30 p.m. GMT, 8.30 a.m. ET).
Venue: Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur, Dhaka.
TV listings: India: Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD.Bangladesh: Channel 9 and Bangladesh TV. Pakistan: Geo Super, Ten Sports and PTV.Middle East and North Africa: OSN Sports Cricket. Sri Lanka: MTV Sports, Star network and SL national channel. Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, Europe and UK: Yupp TV.