Asia Cup title has been regained and the prelims have been passed. With Rohit Sharma and Co. focused on the final exam, here is a look at India’s A to F from the Asia Cup, with an eye on the World Cup.
It has often been noticed over the last decade that India had been found wanting when it comes to catching up on batting trends in limited-over cricket. It was refreshing that while batting first, especially against Pakistan in both the games, India pressed the accelerator right from start to end.
Even in the abandoned game in Pallekele on September 2, Ishan Kishan came out all guns blazing despite India having lost early wickets. The batting template for the World Cup seems to have been set.
B: Boom boom
A fit Jasprit Bumrah is one of the key players for India’s success across formats over the last seven years. Bumrah’s absence haunted India for almost a year, especially during the T20 World Cup in 2022 and the World Test Championship in June.
Having proven his fitness in the T20I series in Ireland, Bumrah ran in hard all through the tournaments — despite missing a game for the birth of his child — and proved he is ready to lead the pace back come October 8.
C. Comeback K(L)ing
Besides Bumrah, it was supposed to be a fitness test for K.L. Rahul after a four-month lay-off. He pounced on the opportunity and scored an unbeaten hundred to silence his detractors. And the management and the selectors have continued to back him to the fullest by appointing him as the stand-in captain for the first two ODIs against Australia.
All-rounders — or utility players, in the lower-order seems to be the mantra to success for India’s ODI set-up. With the top five batters not offering bowling options, the management has adopted to increase the depth of batting by persisting with Shardul Thakur or Axar Patel or Washington Sundar at No. 8 based on the nature of the pitch. The ploy — set to be persisted for the World Cup — gives India six bowling options and at least eight batters.
When it comes to using resources and the players making the most of opportunity, the Asia Cup saw India ticking almost all the boxes. Kuldeep Yadav’s efficiency in picking wickets in the middle overs augurs well for India ahead of the World Cup. So does the fact that the top four have are scoring runs. If the two specialist all-rounders carry on the good work over the next two months, India will definitely be a force to reckon with in the World Cup.
F. Fitness concerns
The only concern over the last fortnight has been fitness issues surrounding Shreyas Iyer and Axar Patel. Having broken down with his problematic back during the Asia Cup, Shreyas is expected to take the field for the series-opener versus Australia on Friday.
Should he break down again during the series, India will be forced to rope in Tilak Varma for the World Cup. Axar sustained a muscle tear and missed the Asia Cup. While Washington Sundar was called up for the final, veteran R. Ashwin’s addition to the squad against Australia thickens the plot.