India begin their Asia Cup 2018 campaign on Tuesday when they take on minnows Hong Kong in a Group A match at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Indian captain and run-machine Virat Kohli has been rested for the tournament with Rohit Sharma given the responsibility of leading the team. Batsman Ambati Rayudu admitted that Kohli will be a "big miss and loss to the team" but feels that there is enough quality in the side to still do well and win. Meanwhile, Rayudu also took the opportunity to speak about former captain MS Dhoni's influence on the team.
"Obviously, he (Virat) is a big miss and loss to the team. However, we still have enough quality in the team to go out and win. He (Dhoni) has been India's captain and always been the go-to man for everybody in the team," Rayudu said at a media conference on Saturday. "He (Dhoni) has helped me a lot in terms of how I recovered this season."
With India yet to settle their middle-order conundrum with less than a year left for the World Cup, there is a chance for players such as Rayudu to stake a claim in the playing XI.
"To be very honest, (I) haven't thought about it (middle-order) or looked at it as a competition. It's just an opportunity to express myself and (I) don't want to put more pressure to my game by thinking about these," he said.
The 32-year-old, returning to the team after a long injury-induced layoff, added, "I don't think anybody is actually thinking about the World Cup. We are in for the Asia Cup and I don't think anybody is thinking about it right now."
India will not have even a day's rest for their match against arch-rivals Pakistan. Just a day after taking on Hong Kong, India will clash against Sarfraz Ahmed's team on September 19.
"I don't think it will be a disadvantage. It will be definitely tough and I'm sure we will do best possible things to recover and go out fresh to play the next game."
He said that it was frustrating to miss out on the limited overs leg of the England tour despite a stellar Indian Premier League season for Chennai Super Kings. Rayudu failed to the make the Indian team after flunking the yo-yo test in his first attempt.
"Obviously it was frustrating to miss out on the England tour. But I'm happy that I can come back and give the test and get picked to play in the Asia Cup.
"This year I played well in the IPL. The main thing is that I feel age doesn't matter as long as you are fit."
(With PTI Inputs)