The epicenter of cricket shifts base and finds itself a new home in the sub-continent. It will stay here for the next two weeks as international teams from this hot-bed of activity, bare their arsenal for continental supremacy. What would, in all probabilities, make this contest riveting is that each team has bare weaknesses that are expected to turn into strengths for the other.
A look at the contesting parties makes this event an unpredictable, dis-jointed and possibly volatile series of encounters. A look at the previous months may explain what fans may expect from their respective team in the days to come.
Brave New India:
This side is possibly the most experimental and rash that could have come from the stables of Indian selection committee. After all, resting Virender Sehwag was a bold step by most estimates. The selection committee would like the world and the illiterates (to be read as fans) to believe that the focus is on the youth. Virat Kohli is vice-captain of a side which has an average age of 27 (this figure includes Sachin's 38 years and 314 days by India's first match).
What will come as a jarring relief for the team though is that the pitches are back to being one's that harvest runs by the hundreds. Spinners can be employed regularly but then, when has that been a problem for the men in blue. 200, 300, 350 - expect records to flow in streams as the Indians show that they really are the World Champions (crowned after a World Cup on Indian tracks).
What'more' can Pakistan want:
Misbah has a new mentor. And he is a veteran of fighting battles in the sub-continent. Pakistan team will play the first tournament under new coach Dav Whatmore and what can possibly be better than having a guide who has known two of the three opposing forces inside out, having coached Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Look out also, for a man armed with spinning balls who will surely answer to the name of Saeed Ajmal. He made the Barmy Army shut shop in the middle-east and has the potential to do the same even if bowling to more seasoned players of spin.
The real question though is if the team can re-group and get the magic going after being thrashed by England in the recently concluded ODI series. After all, the margins of defeat (120 runs, 20 runs, 9 wickets and 4 wickets) do not speak volumes about a team that celebrated Test success against the best side before bowing down in the ODIs.
Lankan lions to be let loose:
They are fierce with a nothing to lose attitude that saw the Australians run for cover for most parts of the CB Series. Even in their defeat, the margins were blunted by brash fury of the tail-enders.
Having won the Asia Cup in 2008, Sri Lanka will fancy their chances despite losing the right to be defending champions in 2010. The batting trio led by skipper Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan are in good form and will be confident as they recently jumped places in the ICC ODI rankings. Add Dinesh Chandimal to the mix and batting looks more like a power-packed team of 'ruffians' ready to let all hell loose on the playing field.
The team has had a change in fortunes since a forgotten tour of South Africa. A 'still-fresh' coach and a 'deja vu' skipper - this team is ready to take off.
Bang, Bang banging on Bangladesh's door:
Hosts always have an edge over the opposition. Not really the case when it comes to Bangladesh but not for the lack of fans backing their team to the hilt.
The side has been plagued with selection issues and a certain Tamim Iqbal will have to belt the bowling if he has to prove the popular support in his favour, correct.
23-year-old Mushfiqur Rahim is in the commanding post and this time around, Bangladesh cannot escape as 'the minnows who fought hard.' They have had the tag tagging for too long and have to script victories (and not upsets) if they want to begin their long-awaited ascend on the perilous journey of international cricket.