This was more a World Cup rehearsal than just an Asia Cup
India’s Struggle to Achieve in the Past Decade
The sheen of the Asia Cup would have been missing had India not gone all the way, something they have struggled to achieve in the past decade.
Highlights of India’s Performance
- The openers have struck form in different combinations
- Kuldeep Yadav has been almost unplayable
- Hardik Pandya has been an absolute workhorse with bat and ball
- Mohammed Siraj has now cemented his place in the first eleven
- KL Rahul’s confident return, topped by a fine century in the Super Four win against Pakistan, has largely addressed India’s middle-order concerns
Shreyas Iyer’s Absence Not a Worry for India
Among the specialist batters, only Shreyas Iyer hasn’t got much game time because of a back spasm during the Pakistan game but India captain Rohit Sharma isn’t reading too much into it.
“I would say 99% he should be okay as of now, but he looks good. I don’t think it’s a worry for us.”
Axar Patel’s Injury and Replacement
It however looks like Axar Patel, ruled out of the final due to a left quadricep strain suffered in the match against Bangladesh on Friday, may be unavailable for the upcoming home series against Australia. Patel was replaced by Washington Sundar on Sunday.
“Axar—I’m not sure, he had a small tear. We just have to wait and see how the injury progresses. Every individual is different; some guys recover quickly. I hope that’s the case with Axar. I am not too sure if he’ll be available to play the first two games at home against Australia. We’ll wait and see.”
India’s Bowling Strength and Fielding Excellence
While the batting may still need a bit of fine-tuning, India’s bowling is more sorted, especially with Kuldeep Yadav emerging as the exact blend of attack and contain in the middle overs when sides normally aim to only stem the run flow.
“The last year and a half has been amazing, I’m enjoying my bowling,” said Yadav.
Jasprit Bumrah has bounced back from an injury that had sidelined him for almost a year, Pandya and Shardul Thakur have proven their utility, and Mohammed Siraj’s final haul of 6/21 has solidified India’s bowling attack.
Sharma also didn’t forget to mention India’s sharp fielding, especially at slips. “Our fielding was outstanding in this series. Slip catches against pacers. We will have off days on the field. It’s fine as long as you back it up with a solid performance the next day.”
India’s Confidence Heading into the World Cup
Only an ODI series against Australia is left before the World Cup and Sharma believes this is just the buildup they needed.
“It gives us a lot of confidence to come here and win a tournament like this. We can take a lot of positives from the tournament, not just for one or two players but for the entire squad. They did their job.”
About the Author
Somshuvra Laha is a sports journalist with over 11 years’ experience writing on cricket, football, and other sports. He has covered the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup, the 2016 ICC World Twenty20, cricket tours of South Africa, West Indies and Bangladesh, and the 2010 Commonwealth Games for Hindustan Times.