Team India. (Photo Source: Twitter)
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), on Monday, August 21, announced India’s 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup in the presence of chief selector Ajit Agarkar and skipper Rohit Sharma in New Delhi. The squad met the expectations except for a few. Team India has also announced one reserve player in the form of wicketkeeper-batter Sanju Samson.
The announcement didn’t have any surprise selection to say. With the rise of Tilak Verma, it was quite evident that his name would be discussed. And interestingly, he made the cut. Besides this inclusion, Sanju Samson finds his name as a backup player as KL Rahul is coming off from a long injury break and has sustained a sore niggle.
The most notable exclusion has to be Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg spinner has been struggling of late in international cricket. And he lacks the batting ability India emphasizes on. Although, it was communicated in the media interaction that the door isn’t closed for him yet. But it’s highly unlikely to happen, as the BCCI will trim the squad and send 15 players for the mega event.
1. Rohit Sharma (captain)
Rohit Sharma makes an obvious entry as Team India’s opener for the Asia Cup. This time he’s leading as the permanent captain in the ODI set-up. Last time in 2018, he led the team to victory as the stand-in skipper. A lot of Team India’s performances depend upon Rohit Sharma.
He’s very much responsible to give India a good start with his opening partnership. As the openers are known to set the tone, Rohit knows what the team requires from him. Before the ICC Cricket World Cup kicks off, the Hitman would like to get into a good rhythm.
Rohit Sharma had a monumental World Cup last time with the bat. Although the team didn’t qualify for the finals, Rohit’s excellence was supreme. This time, he would like to start off his World Cup campaign with a great show in multi-nation Asia Cup.
2. Shubman Gill
India’s young batting sensation Shubman Gill makes Rohit Sharma’s opening partner. The right-hand batter has attained a new high in international cricket this year. Gill has scored runs right from the start of the year and his form at the top has put someone like Shikhar Dhawan out of the squad.
Gill has got solid technique to succeed and has shown the temperament as well. But in recent times, he has struggled a bit. However, he will get a good number of opportunities before the mega event starts off in the month of October.
He shares a good rapport with his captain. If India has to progress to the last stages, Gill can play a crucial role as he is agile on the field as well, which provides Team India with a good fielding option.
3. Virat Kohli
India’s batting mainstay Virat Kohli will come at number three for India in the Asia Cup. The star batter, who’s made this batting position his own in the last decade or so, will be instrumental going forward. The beast has already made his comeback into his old mould and seems ready to roar.
Kohli’s wicket will always be the opponent’s top priority. And with that, they’ll look to attack him even more. The batter likes when opponents have a go at him as he feels it brings the best out of him. He’s been in superb form in the ODI format, although he missed the West Indies tour.
Kohli will try to get back to his rhythm slowly. He is well aware of the unfinished job in 2019 which might push him to bring out the best. This time the captaincy pressure is taken off, and he’s enjoying the game even more. For India’s success, they need Kohli to score big runs and don the senior’s job.
4. Shreyas Iyer
Shreyas Iyer is expected to make his national team comeback with Asia Cup. Post 2019 Cricket World Cup, he’s been the most successful number-four batter in One-Dayers. Though he’s coming off from a long injury break, he’s been declared fully fit by the National Cricket Academy’s medical team.
Straight away coming into the team and batting at number four will be a tough task for Iyer. But the player he is, it won’t be that hard for him to get back to his natural groove. He’s a clutch player who can hold the top order and middle order.
He’s a good player of spin, which will be needed in the middle-overs phase. He can stitch the innings to add crucial runs at the back end of the innings, but he needs to take some time to get back to his batting form.
5. Ishan Kishan (wk)
Ishan Kishan could be the first-choice wicketkeeper for India in the first match, at least, in the Asia Cup. Despite KL Rahul’s return, Ishan will keep his place in the team. Recently, KL sustained a sore niggle and is unlikely to feature in the first match. But Ishan may not open the innings and would need to come down the order to accommodate India’s top three.
Ishan has to be flexible enough to succeed in the middle phase as well. In all the matches he played in recent times, Kishan played as an opener. He has to change his mindset and his batting style to grind through the last phase of the innings.
And with Ishan, Team India gets a specialist wicketkeeper for the time being. For KL, it will be physically demanding at this stage. So this gives Ishan an exclusive opportunity to prove his case strongly for the World Cup squad.
6. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya will play as an all-rounder in the Asia Cup. He has been designated as Team India’s vice-captain, as expected. For the past year and a half, he’s been part of the leadership group. And his performance may define India’s fortune in the Asia Cup and World Cup.
His matured batting will assure Team India finishes strong. In case, there is a batting collapse, he can hold one end but the time has come when he needs to up his personal game a bit.
And with the ball in hand, he can provide important wickets. He understands the game pretty well and can be used as a trump card whenever the situation demands. So, he’s a vital asset India will rely on.
7. Ravindra Jadeja
Along with Hardik, Ravindra Jadeja forms India’s lower middle order. Over the last few years, Jadeja has transformed his batting to a different level altogether. He’s a strong bat who can change the momentum of the game in no time and has proven that time and again.
In a true sense, he’s a 3D player who can equally contribute to three departments. His strong arm and hand movements are feared by the opponent batters. But one department where the star all-rounder will like to work more on can be his bowling.
If he can get India through the middle over phase and leak lesser runs, it will turn the fortune of the team. His accurate bowling under lights can decide the fate of the match. He’s a strongly built cricketer, and the team would need him fit and fine.
8. Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav comes in as the only specialist spinner in the playing XI. He can provide the batting depth the team management asks for. And his recent form with the ball in hand has shown positive signs. He is mixing his variations quite well to outfox the batters.
Along with Jadeja, Yadav needs to bind the batters in the middle phase of the match. He’s changing his line and length to disturb the batter’s rhythm. Even a year back, he was out of the scheme of things for the national team. But he’s worked on his bowling skills and upped his mental game to aid his performance.
In the recently concluded West Indies series, he was the pick of the bowlers. He’ll look to continue that momentum forward. Kuldeep can provide the team with breakthroughs in critical situations.
9. Mohammed Shami
With Asia Cup, Mohammed Shami makes his return to the national side. In the recent series, he was given due rest considering the workload coming in the next few months. But he will need some match practice to get back to his form, and he gets a good platform like Asia Cup to sharpen his skills.
With Jasprit Bumrah, Shami forms a formidable bowling pair. And now Mohammed Siraj has joined them. This trio will hunt together. Shami is known for his seam presentation, which is still relevant to define his bowling.
In the past, he’s performed in big-match situations. With him, the Indian team gets an option down the order who can tonk sixes if needed. With Bumrah coming off from an extended injury, Shami needs to share the bowling workload a bit more this time.
10. Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah has got his due place back in the game. The long injury kept him out of the national squad for almost a year. And now when the World Cup is on the lines, Bumrah makes a solid return to the international arena.
With his recent performance in Ireland T20s, Bumrah has got important game time. And there, he showed what value he adds to the limited-overs side. Bumrah’s 10 overs will be gold dust for Rohit and he has to utilize them carefully and maximize his bowling performance.
Before the World Cup, the right-arm pacer will get a good 8–9 matches to check his match fitness for a 50-over game. He can check his progression during this Asia Cup campaign, which will benefit him in due course. Besides, he seems to have improved his batting ability as well.
11. Mohammed Siraj
In recent times, if one bowler from India has made his mark in all three formats, it has to be Mohammed Siraj. The pacer from Hyderabad, in the absence of Bumrah, has risen to the occasion and his swing abilities with the new ball have been overwhelming.
Siraj provides Rohit the option to alter one of his bowling options at will. He will share the new ball, which provides the captain to reserve a few overs for Shami and Bumrah. He hits the deck hard and lets the ball talk. Furthermore, he has learned the art of using the condition according to his bowling.
In this Asia Cup, Siraj may look to add new feathers to his bowling. He will get a chance to experiment before the World Cup comes. His aggression and never say die attitude set him apart from others.