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Asia Cup: The heat is on as competition gets under way

Five bowlers were flown in by the Indian cricket board to help the batsmen get used to the conditions.

Dubai: The heat and humidity which the participating teams will have to tackle over the next two weeks in the Asia Cup is a cause of concern for the players, and Indian skipper Rohit Sharma made no bones about it after their first practice session on Friday.

Asked about how he and the first batch of Indian players — who had their first taste of the conditions at the ICC Academy grounds — Sharma said it was not a very “pleasant surprise”.

“This is why I wanted to come here a few days earlier with others who were coming from India. The group which is coming from England will get a few days’ break to be with their families before joining us here,” he said during the trophy launch ceremony.

There was an extra buzz at the ICC Academy complex on Friday afternoon as the word spread among the local trainees and their families that at least nine members of the Indian team — who arrived here last evening — had got down to business. There was much clamour to get autographs from Mahendra Singh Dhoni and skipper Sharma while the others in the group were Kedar Yadav, Ambati Rayudu, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel and newcomer Khaleel Ahmad.

The Men in Blue plunged headlong into practice to acclimatise themselves with the heat — with the batsman turning up against the five bowlers the Indian cricket board has flown in for the purpose.

Pace bowlers Siddharth Kaul, Avesh Khan, Praseedh Krishna and spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Mayank Markande were seen working with the batsmen after a warm-up session as most of the front-line bowlers were on their way back from England.

Dhoni, now 37 and the most senior player in the tournament along with Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga, is expected to be a huge draw here in the absence of Virat Kohli — the Indian skipper who has been rested after the long-drawn England series India lost 4-1.

“Once all of us get together, we will work out our plan in details,” said Sharma. “We have been playing some good cricket in this format in recent times but it’s a tough tournament here and we need to take one match at a time.

For Sharma, this will be the first full series as captain. The only time the prolific scorer in this format has played competitive cricket in the UAE before was in the Indian Premier League in 2014 as captain of Mumbai Indians.

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