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Asia Cup debacle raises serious questions for India ahead of T20 World Cup




Rohit Sharma’s India have emerged as the top contenders to lift the 2022 Asian Cup trophy, but their dreams have been dealt a major blow after consecutive defeats in the league’s Super Four, instead, Their lacklustre campaign has raised some serious questions ahead of Australia’s all-important T20 World Cup.


 

India suffered a six-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka on Tuesday and are on the verge of being knocked out of the Asian Cup after losing to Pakistan in the opening match of the Super 4 stage. The Men in Blue are now relying on other outcomes for a summit clash. If Pakistan beat Afghanistan in Sharjah on Wednesday, India will be officially eliminated before playing the final match.

Both Super 4 losses had some similar patterns – last defeat, fatalities, mid-level crashes, under-par totals – which showed that the Indian team was unable to learn from and correct mistakes. Despite these losses, skipper Rohit Sharma believes these are not panic stations yet. Whether Rohit agrees or not, India has serious problems.

Just six weeks away from India’s opening match of the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), IANS looks at the key areas that captain Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid need to address ahead of the big event in Australia.

Smart team choice:

India’s team selection during the Asian Cup has been difficult to fathom since Ravindra Judja was injured. Axar Patel has been named as Jadeja’s replacement, but he has not played a game until now.

There’s no doubt that it’s not easy to make substitutions for a player like Judgar, but the all-around star has missed a lot of games this year with a knee injury, so the front office has plenty of time to find a replacement.

In Jadeja’s absence, the team wanted a southpaw against the spinners in midfield, so they used Rishabh Pant, but he didn’t look convincing at all against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Overall Pant’s stats are also less impressive in the T20Is, which raises the question of another left-hander, Ishan Kishan, being left out.

Despite his stellar performances in the home series against South Africa and previous series, the team’s management has completely ruled out the 24-year-old Kishan and even attempted an interim opener. On the other hand, Deepak Hooda has been favored over Dinesh Karthik in the last few games because he can throw a few balls and give captains and extra options, but he doesn’t pitch at all.

Also, Huda’s success has come mainly from top batsmen, but in the Asian Cup he was given the job of finishing innings. So, the question is, if Hooda was chosen as a pure finisher rather than a bowling option, why didn’t the team play Dinesh Karthik, who has excelled in the role recently.

In the bowling department, Awish Khan’s illness has left India with just two suitable walkers and forced them to play an extra spinner, making Hardik Pandya the third striker. There’s no question that Pandya could have won games with both the bat and the ball in his days for sure, but relying on him as a four-ball bowler in every game was a risky choice. It’s also unusual to see just three fast bowlers in India’s 15-man squad heading to Dubai.

So, the team management will definitely need to choose their lineup more wisely, especially in a high-pressure situation like the World Cup.

Clear thinking:

The history of cricket has shown that too many cuts and changes in teams do not help, and India’s continued “experimentation” in the Asian Cup has proved it again. One could argue that Rohit Dravid is trying to find the best combination ahead of the World Cup, but it should never come at the expense of key games that could damage the team’s confidence.

Karthik was forced to sit down to make way for southpaw Pant after one match, while Ravi Bishnoi was knocked out for the clash with Sri Lanka despite a strong performance against Pakistan. Ashwin, who replaced Bishnoy, also played just one match in the entire Asian Cup.

So, these experiments certainly didn’t help people like Karthik, Bishnoi, and Ashwin, who wanted a clearer picture of their future roles. KL Rahul, on the other hand, also looked rusty in the Asian Cup, so the team management will have to decide whether he has done enough to keep his place in the T20 World Cup or they should look for other options.

Choose the right bowler:

In the absence of the injured Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel, India’s particularly fast bowlers lacked this penetration and looked ordinary. Veteran contender Bhuvneshwar Kumar looked alright at the top, but in two consecutive games his 19th innings was abysmal, allowing India to lose the match. So, it will be interesting to see if the team sticks with Bhuvi or goes for Deepak Chahar, who will also make some contributions with the bat.

On the other hand, Arshdeep Singh also does well in patches and needs to be more consistent with his length and lines. However, as this is his first major tournament, the performances of the young players could help him keep his World Cup berth. Meanwhile, Avesh Khan played in two group matches for India in the Asian Cup, but his performances were expensive, dropping 72 points in six matches in the two matches he played, including in the round of 40. Going 1-for-53 in the win over Hong Kong. Therefore, his position is also very dangerous.

Assuming Bumrah and Harshal are fit on time and Arshdeep holds his spot, India will have to brainstorm the rest of the fast bowlers. They have options from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Md Shami, Prasidh Krishna, Umran Malik, Mohsin Khan and others.

In the rotation department, Yuzvendra Chahal looks certain to be in the World Cup, but there is no clarity on the availability of Jadeja, who underwent successful surgery on Tuesday. R Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav and others are other options.

After the Asian Cup, India will play a home series against Australia and South Africa, during which they will have to work out their problems. Captains and coaches should stop experimenting and give the players a steady run that will give them much-needed clarity and confidence ahead of next month’s T20 World Cup.

–IANS

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(Only the title and images of this report may have been modified by Business Standards staff; the rest of the content was automatically generated from the syndicated feed.)





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