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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Indian cricket fans in UAE left disappointed by Virat Kohli's absence from Asia Cup squad

World's No 1 batsman being rested for the tournament, but India fans still optimistic about their side's chances
India captain Virat Kohli, right, will not be taking part in the Asia Cup. Getty Images

Indian cricket supporters in UAE have reacted with disappointment to news Virat Kohli will not be playing at the Asia Cup.

“The committee in consultation with the team management took a unanimous decision to rest Virat Kohli for the tournament,” the Indian board wrote, when announcing the squad on Saturday.

Rohit Sharma has been named captain in Kohli’s absence, with Shikhar Dhawan as his deputy.

India begin their campaign at Dubai International Stadium on September 18, when they play the qualifier from an ongoing event that involves the UAE national team.

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Appetite for the India fixtures, particularly the encounter with Pakistan in Dubai on September 19, has been significant.

Manish Dhakan, a Dubai-based India supporter, believes that enthusiasm will be unaffected, although he is sad to miss out on seeing the world’s No 1-ranked batsman in the flesh.

“I do have tickets, and of course it is disappointing with him not being there, but the Indian team that has been named has all the other stars,” Dhakan said.

“The side is plenty good enough for any Indian supporter to want to go and watch the team play.

“Unfortunately, I’ve never watched Kohli play live and it would have been something I’d have really looked forward to. His presence on the field encourages not just the players, but the fans, too.

“But with MS Dhoni there, I still think we will see a formidable India side playing, irrespective of Kohli’s absence.”

Nashwan Nasir, another Dubai-based supporter, has seen Kohli play in person for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the past. He had been wary India's captain might be rested, given the forthcoming schedule.

“I knew Virat has had a back injury and could be rested, but I went ahead and got tickets,” Nasir said.

“I am pretty disappointed he is not there, because he is the star attraction. That being said, he is coming off a long season, has scored tons of runs, and needs to manage his body.

“As a fan, it is disappointing. As someone who thinks he understands cricket, it is understandable.

"It would have been great to see him competing in the prestigious India-Pakistan game, the first time we have had that here in 20-odd years.

“The occasion is big for us fans, but it is understandable he has taken the break.”