Virat Kohli's Asia Cup absence could help Indian revival, says Kapil Dev

India's 1983 World Cup-winning captain believes current leader's decision to not play in the UAE tournament could be a blessing in disguise for side being battered in England

Cricket - England v India - Fifth Test - Kia Oval, London, Britain - September 10, 2018   India's Virat Kohli reacts after losing his wicket   Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs
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Kapil Dev believes India can thrive without Virat Kohli and become a better side because of his absence during the Asia Cup.

Kohli will take a break after the Test series in England, with Rohit Sharma set to captain India in the Asia Cup in Dubai and Abu Dhabi instead.

Many observers have claimed India have become overly-reliant on their star batsman in recent times.

For example, in the Test series in England, his haul of runs is more than twice as many as the next best Indian, Cheteshwar Pujara.

Kapil, who won the World Cup as India's captain in 1983, thinks Kohli's absence at the Asia Cup could prove telling for the development of the Indian side.

“If you depend on one player to win the championship, you are not going to win the championship,” Kapil said, speaking in Dubai on Monday.

“Yes, Virat Kohli is a very important player. The way he has played in the past seven or eight years, he has become instrumental in winning matches, but what is important is that the team play without him.

“If the best player is not there, the team can revive themselves and come to know how good they are.

"I would like to see how the Indian team manage without Virat Kohli. If they can do well, they will become much stronger.”

Former Indian cricketer and the brand ambassador of the TAAFI Run Kapil Dev addresses a press conference in New Delhi on September 3, 2018. - Indian Territorial Army and the Athletics Federation of India will be organising the first official National Marathon of India or "Territorial Army and Athletics Federation of India Run (TAAFI Run)" on October 2, to celebrate the Indian Territorial Army. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP)
Former Indian cricketer Kapil Dev believes Virat Kohli's absence could be good for India. AFP


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Despite outstanding performances with the bat, Kohli has come in for increasing criticism over his captaincy.

With just Tuesday’s final day to go in The Oval Test, India look set for a 4-1 series loss in the England Test series. India also lost the one-day international series that preceded that.

Kapil is hopeful there will be no knock-on effect from the UK tour, suggesting a change of pace and scenery will be just what India need.

“It is a change of format, a change of clothes, and I always think coloured clothing suits India more than the white clothing,” said Kapil, who was in Dubai as a guest of the Asia Cup's broadcast partner Channel 2 and Channel 4 Radio Network.

“They haven’t had a great tour of England, but we can always hope for better. I think when they come to this part of the world they will be a different team altogether.”

India play Hong Kong in their opening match of the Asia Cup on September 18 at Dubai International Stadium.

A day later, they play the most-anticipated fixture of the group stage, against rivals Pakistan at the same ground.

“Back in the 1980s when we played [Pakistan in Sharjah] the Pakistan team was far better than us,” Kapil said.

“I think on paper today the Indian team is far bigger than Pakistan, in terms of experience, performance, everything. It is just a matter of how the team play as a unit, that is what is important.”