India should not play: Sehwag critical of Asia Cup 2018 schedule
New Delhi: Virender Sehwag on Thursday lashed out at the tight schedule of the 2018 Asia Cup where Team India will play back-to-back matches on September 18 and 19. Asia Cup, which is set to take place in the UAE from September 15 sees the Men in Blue playing with no rest days in between as per the schedule released for the biennial tournament. Defending champions India will lock horns with arch-rivals Pakistan on September 19 in their second match after facing one of the qualifiers. The likes of India, Pakistan and the yet-to-be-decided qualifier are included in Group A while Group B consists of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The top two nations from each group will make it for the Super 4 rounds and the winners will eventually face each other in the final slated for 28 September. “I am really shocked to see the scheduling because which country plays back-to-back cricket matches these days? There was a gap of two days in between the T20 matches in England and here you are playing ODIs under hot Dubai weather and that too without a break. So, I don’t think this is a correct scheduling. Why there’s such hue and cry over playing the Asia Cup? Don’t play the Asia Cup. Prepare the team for the home series or the away series. It’s really difficult to play back-to-back games,” Sehwag was quoted as saying to India TV. The former India opener also pointed out how the rigorous schedule would take a toll on players who needed proper rest. “There shouldn’t be any back-to-back games. If the BCCI had to cancel anything then it should have been the qualifier game in the Asia Cup rather than reducing the four-day practice match against Essex to three days. A player needs at least 48 hours to recover after playing an ODI match because you field for 3.5 hours and after that if you bat for 2 hours then it makes your total time spend on the ground to 5.5 hours. So, it takes a minimum of 24 to 48 hours for a player to recover,” he added. The former swashbuckling batsman also said that Pakistan had the upper hand as India play two continuous matches. “When Team India will play the Asia Cup in Dubai in September, there will be too much heat and it will hamper the players’ recovery process. Pakistan will be in a good shape whereas the Indian players will be tired. And if we end up losing the match, then there might be a problem as we all are very passionate whenever we play against Pakistan. We always want India to win against Pakistan but if the Indian players are tired then Pakistan will definitely have the advantage,” he explained. Unlike the previous edition, the upcoming tournament will be played in a 50-over format keeping the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup in mind.