2022 Asia Cup: Can Injuries And Comebacks Impact India Cricket Team's Chances?
As the India cricket team has a number of players coming back from injury and some key players missing, there are interesting times ahead for the 2007 T20 champions.
It has been quite a turnaround for the India cricket team in the last year or so ever since Virat Kohli stepped down from the captaincy role. Despite the rumored tensions within the dressing room, the entire squad has stepped up and responded to their new captain, Rohit Sharma.
Ever since their disappointing WT20 campaign in October last year, the Blues have secured convincing T20 series wins over West Indies, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka respectively.
The only T20 series that they didn’t win was a rain-affected series against South Africa at home, in which they drew 2-2.
With a good run in 2022, is it safe to say that India is the overwhelming favorite for the upcoming 2022 Asia Cup?
In the first week of August, India announced their squad for the upcoming Asia Cup in the Middle East. There are some interesting changes within the squad that we will be covering up one by one.
Jasprit Bumrah - The Bowling Spearhead Goes Out
There is no doubt that the biggest casualty for India in the upcoming Asia Cup has come in the form of Jasprit Bumrah. Alongside the Mumbai Indians man, Mohammad Shami has also been left out of the Asia Cup squad.
With Bumrah not featuring, Arshdeep Singh and Bhuvneshwar Kumar will have to stand up to the task. Many pundits believe that India should have retained Shami after Bumrah was declared unfit for the Asia Cup.
While Kumar and Singh bring a mixture of death-over masterclass and early swing, they don’t quite have the enigma that Bumrah has had with his inch-perfect yorkers and bouncers that keep the batters in check in every phase of the game.
In his most recent tour against England, the right-arm fast bowler was in great form, taking 10 wickets in three games across the T20 and ODI series. In the first ODI against the Three Lions, he destroyed England’s top order by taking six wickets.
The 28-year-old has picked up 15 wickets in 20 games against the Asian sides in his T20 career so far. Just in the UAE, he has bagged seven wickets in 5 T20 matches.
He was coming off an average IPL campaign this year judging by his standards where he scalped 15 wickets in 14 matches with his first IPL five-wicket-haul coming against Kolkata Knight Riders.
As he is now set to be out for the Asia Cup, he is already running out of time to regain his fitness for the World T20 in Australia.
KL Rahul’s Comeback
KL Rahul has been granted a wildcard entry into the white-ball team after a three-month layoff and a poor World T20 last year. The right-handed batsman is in Zimbabwe currently as he looks to build his confidence for the upcoming Asia Cup.
Recently, Rahul praised the Indian management and captain for the healthy environment they have created for the players to thrive. The 30-year-old said that despite being out of action, the management didn’t forget his contributions for the last two to three years, helping him maintain his confidence.
While Rahul’s batting has allowed him to be a direct opening pick over Shikhar Dhawan, his captaincy record speaks volumes of the work he needs to put in the leadership role.
He has captained the Indian team in four international matches so far and all of them were defeats. The losses include being whitewashed by South Africa in the ODI series.
The 30-year-old is yet to play a T20 game for his country in 2022 but had a fantastic IPL season with Lucknow Super Giants. In the 15 games he played in the 2022 IPL edition, Rahul scored 616 runs with an average of 51.33. Moreover, he scored two centuries and both of them came against the Mumbai Indians.
KL Rahul wasn’t part of the team that won against England and the West Indies in the ODI series, where Shikhar Dhawan took the captaincy role. He is now back as the captain against Zimbabwe as India hopes to go into the Asia Cup on a winning note.
Questions On Virat Kohli
Speaking about captains, there is another name in the upcoming Asia Cup that has a point to prove. Even after 70 tons across all formats, Kohli has something to prove to his critics.
There is no doubt that the lack of form shown by the Royal Challengers Banglore man doesn’t just make the Indian fans sad, but has left the cricket community longing to see him raise his bat to the gallery again.
It’s over 1,000 days since the prolific right-handed batsman last scored an international century for India. Before the Asia Cup squad came out, many pundits and ex-cricketers wanted Kohli to be dropped.
They believe that the BCCI should not pick players based on sentimental values and should give deserving players a chance to perform. The 33-year-old was dropped for the current series against Zimbabwe and is likely to play his next game against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup.
Despite the backing of the current captain, Kohli has struggled for form in the entirety of 2022. His most recent game was the 3rd ODI against England in the away series, where he scored only 17.
Interestingly, Kohli has got a prolific record against Pakistan in the T20Is. In the seven matches he has played against the Greens, the RCB star has scored 311 runs with three fifties and three man-of-the-match performances.
In last year’s lopsided defeat against Pakistan in the World T20, he was the only resistible force as India scored 151 runs. There won’t be a better time for him to recapture his form than playing against his arch-rivals.
According to former Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar, Kohli needs one good consistent run of games to become a force again. The only question is: How long will Sharma and the management persist with the Chase Master if he continues to struggle?
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