Tough batting conditions, good World T20 prep

'Kohli reads the game very well' - Dhoni (4:38)

India captain MS Dhoni praised his side's performance against Sri Lanka to send them crusing to the Asia Cup final (4:38)

Stupid Asia Cup. Stupid green pitches. Stupid low-scoring matches. Didn't you get the memo? The World T20 is coming, and its in the subcontinent. Your job was to prime the batsmen to rack up or run down big totals and smother the bowlers with the toughest of love. So what's the big idea?

Only three out of 14 totals in the tournament have tiptoed over the 140-mark. A chase of 84 ended up not being one-sided. That's not normal, is it? Only, why did Virat Kohli say that batsmen wanted to play games like those? To weather spells like Mohammad Amir's where the ball was hooping around and zipping about like it was remote-controlled? To endure a nerve-wracking examination of one's technique and temperament first before coming out the victor? Must've been a misunderstanding.

After all, Kohli's idea of a good contest also meant a limited-overs legend like Yuvraj Singh ended up like a sitting duck at a carnival shooting gallery. It's one thing that seven-foot tall Mohammad Irfan made the ball trampoline past Yuvraj's nose at 145 kph, but Thisara Perera, another comeback man, who would sooner bowl 145 kph than run at 145 kph, was making things difficult for Yuvraj on Tuesday.

He made only 14 not out off 32 against Pakistan and 35 off 18 against Sri Lanka. He set up two victories, but how much more fun would it have been to see him on a featherbed treating fast bowlers like slow bowlers and slow bowlers like net bowlers?

Instead, the Asia Cup offered conditions that were prickly for the batsmen. As if Yuvraj didn't have enough working against him.

"When you return to international cricket, there is a lot of pressure from yourself. There are people's expectations as well," MS Dhoni said "So the first few matches go out in just figuring out what to do. Whether you want to go out and play the big shot. The minus being that, if you don't do well in the first couple of innings, then there is more pressure on yourself."

Now consider the sordid past Yuvraj has with Mirpur. It was here, against Sri Lanka, under the overwhelming glare of a World T20 final, that he withered away.

"I felt that his approach has always been very good," Dhoni has said for three straight matches. "He gives himself two or three balls before playing the big shot. And you saw today, he's someone who can hit sixes at will. So if the same thing continues gradually, he will be in a very good position before the World Cup."

Why did India's captain - a limited-overs legend himself - offer such glowing testimony to a man who has only 64 runs in three matches at a strike-rate of 96?

Because the conditions were so difficult. Because Yuvraj has withstood them for 125 minutes. Because he is nowhere near his best, and yet only Kohli and Sabbir Rahman have bested him at spending time at the crease.

The Asia Cup has offered bowlers a chance, and as a result the cricket has been intriguing. There has been a thrust and there has been a parry. Even an Associate nation like UAE has been able to cause a few scares. So much that none of the results so far have been foregone conclusions and all of the matches have demanded the batsmen to be clever.

Take India's innings today, for example. They were 16 for 2 by the fourth over with the ball nipping just about enough to make Sri Lanka believe 138 could be defended. Virat Kohli was at the crease, Suresh Raina joined him and they stuck together for 47 balls. Only 14 of them were dots. There wasn't any release in pressure but dew had set in and the seam movement had diminished.

Kohli and Raina had faced enough deliveries to ascertain the line of attack practiced by Nuwan Kulasekara and company - off stump and just outside - and the field was appropriately set. Point, cover, mid-off and the sweeper. Which meant there were gaps on the leg side; gaps that could be capitalised now that the ball wasn't jagging about anymore.

Out came the flicks. Gentle ones, played late and with a roll of the wrist to keep them down. Kohli diminished his chances of getting out even further by batting outside the crease. This meant he could reach the ball before it had the chance to deviate laterally and even force Sri Lanka to hit a shorter length lest they gave away half-volleys.

Such finesse becomes surplus on flat pitches, as was amply clear during India's tour to Australia in January. Perth was a puppy dog. The Gabba left onlookers gobsmacked. The fastest pitches in the world had been put to sleep. No total seemed safe and the cricket almost numbed the senses. Matches like those can help youngsters like Hardik Pandya get used to the pressure of chasing mammoth targets or Jasprit Bumrah get used to the pressures keeping big-hitting batsmen quiet when nothing is in his favour. But luck may play as prominent a part as skill in such circumstances. In the Asia Cup, with these sporting tracks, skill has been the deciding factor.

Even if the conditions have not exactly mirrored those likely for the World T20, there is plenty that all the teams can take away from Bangladesh.

"It [this experience] will help us assess the conditions [better]," Dhoni said "You won't go in with the mindset that 'generally this what happens here and we will bat like this'. It will push the openers especially to play a few deliveries. Especially, if you are batting first. If you're batting second you get some sort of an idea as to what is happening. But if you're batting first, they will give time to the bowler. Then after the second or the third over, depending how much it's deviating off the wicket or if there is some swing, then they will play their shots. I think that's very important.

"Even on the flattest of wickets, it is the first couple of overs that are really important. We will be able to give that respect to the opposition and the condition, which I think is crucial. Because one or two overs for this side won't make a lot of difference. Even if we don't get too many runs in the first two overs, we still have the firepower to get those runs in the next 18 overs. That has been our strength.

"What is important is to keep it in the back of your mind as to 'this is what were thinking like when we were in Bangladesh when it was doing a bit but now's it's not so what's a good score?' All these things, being a cricketer is a part of your subconsciousness. I feel it will only help us."

This Asia Cup has provided some fantastic cricket, compelling stories, a refreshing balance between bat and ball. If the price for that is a little grass on the pitch, then so be it.