Kohli backs Karthik to seize chance

  • Last Updated: February 24 2014, 14:10 GMT

India captain Virat Kohli believes his side can cope without Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the Asia Cup.

Virat Kohli: India skipper
Virat Kohli: India skipper

The 25-year-old batsman takes the reins for the tournament in Bangladesh from regular skipper Dhoni, who misses out because of a side strain.

While Kohli gets a third stint captaining the side, after successful one-day series in the West Indies and Zimbabwe, Dhoni's place in the side will go to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.

And Kohli believes his side have the tools to cope in Dhoni's absence.

"He's been a very important player for us in the past few years and he's led the team very well," Kohli said. "We've been really consistent in the one-day format and one big reason has been his captaincy and consistency with his batting and finishing games for us.

"His not being there is a big change for us, but these guys will be eagerly waiting to grab their opportunity.

"Dinesh Karthik has been brought in as a replacement and he's a very talented player.

"I'm sure he'll be very keen to grab his opportunity and fill that spot, which is a difficult thing to do, but should be exciting for someone like Dinesh."

India get their campaign under way on Wednesday against hosts Bangladesh, one day after the tournament opener between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Afghanistan make up the line-up for their first major 50-over tournament having featured in the World Twenty20 in 2010 and 2012.

The five teams play each other once in a round-robin format, with the top two going on to face each other in the final in Mirpur on March 8.

For Kohli, who has won seven of the eight games he has captained so far, it is a big opportunity to prove himself as a skipper.

"It's my first big tournament as captain," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. We've got a young group of guys, very exciting players.

"It excites me to have a group to talk to and have a chat with and be on the same page with. It's important to have an understanding and I know all these guys pretty well.

"It's really exciting for me to improve the record which is already good. I'm looking forward to the tournament."

Dhoni is not the only notable absentee from the tournament.

Sri Lanka are without Rangana Herath as his recovery from a knee operation continues, with Nuwan Kulasekara also sidelined by a knee injury.

Bangladesh have not risked batsman Tamim Iqbal, who recently suffered a neck injury, but is expected to be fit for the World Twenty20, while Shakib Al Hasan is suspended for the first two games.

The selection of the Bangladesh squad has proved to be an issue, with captain Mushfiqur Rahim unhappy he was not consulted about the make-up of the 15-man group by selector Faruque Ahmed.

"It is not a subject that I am happy about," Mushfiqur told espncricinfo.com. "I have to play with the team I am given. It is the selectors' duty to pick the 15-man squad. But I am unhappy that the selectors didn't consult me before making the team.

"In that sense, I am shocked. I wasn't aware of the inclusions and the exclusions."

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