asia

KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, two players who have already returned from injuries, were added to India’s side for the Asia Cup. This almost matches expectations.

On September 2, the Rohit Sharma-led Indian cricket team will face off against Pakistan in a tense match to kick off its Asia Cup campaign. The game begins the team’s penultimate round of training before the ODI World Cup at home, in addition to having great emotional value. Two players, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, were immediately inserted into the India squad for the Asia Cup after successfully returning from injury. Ajit Agarkar, the head selection for the BCCI, has announced that Sanju Samson will serve as Rahul’s backup player while he recovers from his niggle.

INDIA’S STRENGTHS

# A set top-three

The top three players in India are decided and rank among the best in the world. Shubman Gill and Captain Rohit Sharma are likely to start for India. The best opener in the world is Rohit, but Shubman Gill has been playing outstanding ODI cricket since 2022. The batter with the highest ranking on the Asia Cup team is Gill. The most recent ICC ODI batting rankings place him fifth.

While Gill has the highest ODI average (69.4) since 2022 (MIN: 500 Runs), Rohit is the only opener to average 50+ in ODI after amassing 3000+ runs.

Virat Kohli needs 102 more runs to reach the 13000-run mark in ODIs. He will join a select group of five players with 13000 or more runs in ODIs.  Also, among hitters who have scored more than 10,000 runs in ODIs, Kohli has the greatest average (57.3). After scoring more than 10,000 runs, he is one of just two hitters to average 50 or more in an ODI; the other is MS Dhoni, who averages 50.6. After Sachin Tendulkar, who has 49 ODI hundreds, he has the second-most (46) in history.

# Pace prowess

After playing in ODIs for more than a year, Indian speed bowler Jasprit Bumrah is back for his country. The last ODI Bumrah played for India was on July 14, 2022. In ODI (MIN: 100 Wickets), Bumrah ranks third among current pace bowlers in terms of bowling average (24.3).  Additionally, since 2022, Indian pacers have had the joint-best ODI bowling average. The Indian pacers were excellent even without Bumrah, and his addition will help the bowling unit much more in ODIs. Since 2022, Indian bowlers have performed well in one-day internationals, and both pacers and spinners have been in excellent form.

WEAKNESS

# Not a settled middle order?

India has been bothered by their ranking at number 4 ever since the ICC 2019 Cricket World Cup. Numerous players from India have attempted out for the number four place, but it has not been successful. Since the 2019 ICC World Cup, Shreyas Iyer has amassed 805 runs while batting at number 4 for India. He is, however, making a comeback to international cricket following an injury.

Surya Kumar Yadav is another candidate for the number 4 post, however he has allowed 30 runs in 5 innings at that position. Suryakumar Yadav has also not performed well in ODIs. He has scored 511 runs in 24 innings while averaging 24.3 in ODIs.

KL Rahul’s fitness is also a cause for concern.  Since the 2019 ICC CWC, KL Rahul has been India’s top run scorer while batting in the middle order. He is returning from an injury, though, and will miss the opening three Asia Cup games due to a niggle, thus Ishan Kishan will maintain wickets for India.

Ishan Kishan, a middle-order pitcher, has 106 runs scored in 6 innings. However, despite India having the opportunity to attempt Ishan Kishan in the middle order, he was deployed as an opener in the most recent ODI series vs. WI. Tilak Varma, another fresh face for India’s middle order, has been included in the squad. After a strong T20I series against WI and a strong IPL season, he was selected for the Asia Cup team.

However, he lacks ODI middle order batting experience, and his selection to the team before the World Cup ahead of players like Sanju Samson, who has been designated as the reserve player, is shocking.

OPPORTUNITY

# Number 4 position

Players positioned at number 4 have several chances to guarantee their place in the World Cup 2023 by winning the Asia Cup. Since the 2019 ICC CWC, Shreyas Iyer has been India’s finest number 4, and he will try to keep his spot in the starting XI. We might see guys like Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma given an opportunity at this place, though, if Iyer is not physically fit enough and if he performs poorly at the number 4 spot.

#Wicket-Keeping spot

If KL Rahul is healthy enough, his spot as a wicket keeper hitter in the Indian playing XI is all but secured.  Since the 2019 ICC CWC (MIN: 500 Runs), KL Rahul is the only Indian player to average 50 or above while batting in the middle order.Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson could win this position, though, if KL Rahul is not physically prepared and there are any worries about his fitness following an injury.

Rahul will miss the first 1-2 games of the Asia Cup 2023, hence Ishan Kishan is anticipated to get the start in the starting XI. If Ishan Kishan produces, KL Rahul could not be around for a while.

THREATS

# Injured players returning to the team. It may take some time for injured players to achieve full match fitness and their form is unknown.

# India’s lack of batting depth is another issue.There isn’t a well-known replacement for Hardik Pandya on the team. If a fast-bowling all-rounder gets hurt, there isn’t a successor who can perform with the same fervour.

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