New Delhi: The Rohit Sharma-led India had reached UAE as a top contender to lift the Asia Cup 2022 trophy but their dreams have received a major blow after consecutive losses in the Super Four stages of the tournament and their lackluster campaign raised some serious questions before the all-important T20 World Cup in Australia.
After losing to Pakistan in their opening game in the Super 4 stage, India suffered a six-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka and was eliminated from the Asia Cup.
Both Super 4s losses had some similar patterns — last-over defeats, death-overs mishaps, middle-order meltdowns, below-par totals — which shows Team India’s inability to learn from their mistakes and rectify that.
India’s team selections during the Asia Cup have been quite difficult to understand since the injury to Ravindra Jadeja. Axar Patel was called in as Jadeja’s replacement but he hasn’t played a game till now.
No doubt, it’s not easy to replace a player like Jadeja but star all-rounder has missed plenty of matches this year due to knee injury, so the team management had ample time to find a replacement.
In Jadeja’s absence, the team wanted a left-hander to counter the spinners during the middle overs so they played Rishabh Pant, but he didn’t look convincing at all against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Overall’s Pant’s numbers are not that impressive either in T20Is, which raises questions about another left-hander Ishan Kishan’s exclusion.
Despite him performing well in the home series against South Africa and series prior to that, the team management has completely sidelined the 24-year-old Kishan and has even tried makeshift openers in his place. On the other hand, Deepak Hooda was prefered over Dinesh Karthik in the last few games because he can bowl a few overs and gives captain and extra option but he didn’t bowl at all.
In the bowling department, Avesh Khan’s illness left India with just two proper pacers and forced them to play an extra spinner, making Hardik Pandya the third pacer. Undoubtedly, Pandya is a sure-shot match-winner with both bat and ball on his day but relying on him as a four-over bowler in every game is a risky choice.
In absence of injured Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel, the Indian bowling line-up especially fast bowlers lacked that penetration and looked ordinary.
After the Asia Cup, India have a home-series against Australia and South-Africa, during which they will have to sort out their issues. The captain and coach should stop experimenting and give consistent runs to players, to give them much-needed clarity and confidence before the T20 World Cup next month.