Seniors will perform to potential: Dhoni
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes India's senior players will play to their potential in the Asia Cup, starting in Dambulla on Tuesday, after being allowed some much-needed rest.
Speaking at the launch of the Asia Cup trophy, Dhoni welcomed the return of the senior players and hoped they would keep intact, if not enhance, their reputation.
"It is good to have all the senior players back. They have worked on their fitness. During the break they have also worked on their skills, which they couldn't have done during the season," Dhoni said.
"I am confident that they will perform to their potential," he added.
India had fielded a second string unit under Suresh Raina's captaincy for the tri-series in Zimbabwe, where the team finished last.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni rides a bicycle in Dambula
'Sri Lanka, Pakistan tough to beat'
Dhoni, however, refused to be harsh on the youngsters who struggled in Zimbabwe, saying too much should not be read into their back-to-back defeats against Zimbabwe in the tri-series.
"We lost to Zimbabwe but we beat Sri Lanka. You have to understand that we have had fitness issues with our bowlers and we do not have experienced fast bowlers. The series in Zimbabwe has given us options in playing young fast bowlers.
"There is a huge difference between domestic and international cricket. Only by playing would our younger bowlers be able to bridge the gap. The series has given us an opportunity to play youngsters and prepare them for international cricket," said Dhoni.
He deemed India would be under pressure to win the Asia Cup.
"When you are representing your country you are always under pressure to perform. This will be a tough assignment as it would not be easy to beat sides like Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The competition is bound to be tough," he said.
India, who will have six of their players arriving from Zimbabwe, will play Bangladesh on Wednesday.
Image: M S Dhoni
'Asia Cup is preparation for World Cup'
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara reckoned a triumph would help Sri Lanka in preparing for the World Cup, which is to be hosted in the sub-continent between February 19 to April 2 next year.
"The Asia Cup is unique and prestigious. We could take confidence from a triumph here to build the team and in preparation for the ensuing World Cup," said Sangakkara, who, for some queer reason, turned up in casual attire for the official launch of the tournament.
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi, on his part, emphasised that every tournament is important for Pakistan.
"From now on every competition is important. We will keep our focus on this tournament to prepare for the World Cup. I can tell you that we haven't brought youngsters here on a holiday," said Afridi.
The Pakistan captain hoped that comeback pacer Shoaib Akhtar would perform as well as he prepared for the tournament.
"He has worked hard on his comeback. He wants to prove to everyone that he can perform as he did in the part. As a captain I hope he does well. It help Pakistan cricket," said Afridi.
Image: Captains of Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka at the Asia Cup trophy launch