There is a reason why the FIFA World Cup 2010 is generating such passion and shift in loyalty. It is what Asia will be hoping to replicate in nine months time when the ICC World Cup 2011 comes visiting the Indian sub continent. And it is time to test the mettle.
The Indian captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, sounded optimistic ahead of the Asia Cup that also features Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, ““This is the time that you can afford to make a few changes as you get closer to the World Cup. You do not want to do too many changes in your side. In case you are forced to drop someone due to injury, you bring in a replacement. Once we get a set of players, we want to play with them. This is the time that we can experiment. We have about eight to 10 months left now.”
What Dhoni is also talking about the absence of Yuvraj Singh and Sachin Tendulkar leaving room to fill.
That is exactly what all teams will be doing going into the tournament that takes place on a biannual basis. Every team has gone through its highs and lows.
Pakistan are talking the talk under captain, Shahid Afridi, and trying to send down a few shivers by hyping the presence of Shoaib Akhtar but it is the war of the battle seasoned veterans on which will hinge the Asia Cup hopes as all teams return to full strength.
The Bangladesh team need to create their own hype and hold their own in the midst of strong competitors in the region and one of those challenges will be overcoming the wily spin wizard, Muttiah Muralitharan.
The hosts themselves are battling allegations of mediocrity and while the Zimbabwe ODI tri series would have given them something to cheer about, the Asia Cup will a test even in home conditions as other teams look to redeem themselves.
The thing Indian fans will be interested in is: does Dhoni have a few new tricks up his sleeve?