India picked the strongest squad available for the Asian Cup to see how they have stood up to playing in big teams under tournament pressure. They were expected to reach the final, but they didn’t, which suggests there are still areas that need to be ironed out.
With selectors meeting next week to pick a squad for the home series against Australia and South Africa, as well as the T20 World Cup, here are some takeaways from India’s performance over the past two weeks.
Hardik Pandya started the tournament roaring, playing bowling with rhythm and venom. His short-ball trick made Pakistan gasp in the team’s opening match, but when Avesh Khan became sidelined and India needed the all-rounder to step forward as third team, things didn’t go so well.
“If you look at the combination we played before the Asian Cup started, it was with four spinners and two spinners, and the second spinner was a jack of all trades,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to try to find answers to what happens if you play with three seamstresses and two spinners, and the third spinner is a jack of all trades. This was missing in our books; we had never tried that combination. We wanted to try and see what happens here too.” .
India is likely to get Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel back for the Australian series and the World Cup. Which means Hardik will once again return to his usual sixth bowler role, and he excels at that.
Deepak Hooda’s success for the Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL was while batting mainly in the top four. At the Asian Cup, it was the designated milestone and a sixth bowling option in Ravindra Jadeja’s absence. But in three games, he only shot one and also the one against Afghanistan when the match was over. He sparked the debate on Dinesh Karthik’s exclusion. Karthik was designated as the finisher, but when India needed someone for that role against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in deadly clashes, he didn’t get his services from him.
Rohit later explained that Hooda didn’t come bowling against Sri Lanka mainly because he didn’t want to match a pair of batters who scored 97 points in just 11.1 overs with a spinner turning him into their bow of. joke. Which is fair, but just one game earlier, India had the opportunity to pair Hooda with Fakhar Zaman – offspin who took the ball away from the southpaw – and chose not to.
India has supported Axar Patel for the past year and a half as a replacement for Jadeja for all seasons. However, when it came time to cash in on that investment, India went in a completely different direction and chose Hooda instead. Jadeja’s absence also meant India had to play Rishabh Pant to have at least one left-handed hitter in the top six. To accommodate this change, the ax fell on Karthik. Pant had a disappointing tournament by his standards, scoring 14, 17 and 20 * across his three outings.
India commits to the new T20 model
Kohli ended his century of drought by hitting his first tonne T20I, Rohit made a 41-ball 72 bruise against Sri Lanka, and KL Rahul made it through a slow start to the tournament to find form and fluency in subsequent outings. If the highest order had been a concern coming to the tournament, they came up with the matter seemingly settled. In the match against Sri Lanka, Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav continued to play positive cricket despite India being reduced to 13 for 2 in three overs. While the top three didn’t always go ballistic from the first ball, there was a concerted effort to be as aggressive as possible. No more build platforms for the average order to cash out. This backfired a little against their Super 4 match against Pakistan, but India wants to play this way and a couple of losses are unlikely to change that.
Yuzvendra Chahal played an indifferent tournament but kept India chasing Sri Lanka by collecting three wickets. On larger grounds in Australia, his bowling style could make him a huge asset. If Jadeja is not available for the T20 World Cup, and Axar turns out to be his replacement, he could leave the selectors to choose between R Ashwin’s experience and Ravi Bishnoi’s novelty. Both players performed well in the limited opportunities that were offered at the Asian Cup. Bishnoi throws the googly as his reserve ball and is faster in the air and off the pitch, something Pakistan has struggled to cope with as the chase has become tense. Ashwin has more than wanted to keep Sri Lanka in check after a marauding start to their hunt. It will not be easy for recruiters to choose between them.