Fatullah (Bangladesh): Humiliated and winless for quite a while, a bruised Indian cricket team would seek to rediscover the lost touch in a five-way battle for regional supremacy when the 12th Asia Cup one-day cricket tournament starts tomorrow.
India were thoroughly embarrassed in their recent trips to South Africa and New Zealand, failing to win a single match in any format.
And now, India are up for another tough challenge when they square off against arch-rivals Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and debutantes Afghanistan in the sub-continent's premier ODI event.
Captained by Virat Kohli in the absence of an injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India have been a record five-time Asia Cup champions but can hardly be considered favourites this time around given the way they have faltered in recent months.
The struggles in South Africa and New Zealand have laid bare the team's bowling frailties and the over-reliance on Kohli in the batting department.
The Indians will kick off their campaign on Wednesday with a relatively easy match against hosts Bangladesh here.
But once again, the bestseller of the biennial tournament will be the India-Pakistan marquee match in Mirpur on March 2 when the two traditional foes renew their intense cricketing rivalry.
Pakistan will face Sri Lanka in the tournament-opener here tomorrow.
Without the finishing ability of Dhoni, it will be interesting to see how the new-look middle-order— comprising Ajinkya Rahane, wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and the classical-mould Cheteshwar Pujara—performs in the slog overs.
After being made the captain as Dhoni's replacement in a tri-series in the West Indies, Kohli had begun with a loss but since then he has been on a roll with seven straight wins.
That five of the seven wins came against minnows Zimbabwe tells a different story as Kohli will have a completely different challenge this time.