Out of Asia Cup, India seek to find solutions to questions

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07 Sep 2022 | 08:54 PM
authorAakash Sivasubramaniam

Out of Asia Cup, India seek to find solutions to questions

Back-to-back defeats has indeed forced India to play for pride

Two weeks ago, if you had walked up to a cricket fan and uttered these words, “India are out of the Asia Cup,” you would have landed up in a bad place. Anything less than the title was in itself a bad tournament for India. Yet on Tuesday, India stood at the ultimate crossroads, staring at the face of an early elimination from the competition. 

Back-to-back defeats at the hands of Pakistan and Sri Lanka has quashed India’s hopes. But in the larger scheme of things, the twin defeat has posed more questions than sought answers for the nation. At the post-match press conference, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma was adamant that the Men in Blue were still searching for some answers, both with the bat and the ball. 

Injury to Ravindra Jadeja has forced India to make multiple changes to their setup but the result has been the same: loss. While qualification is no more in their hands, Rohit’s India will walk out against Afghanistan to find solutions to the questions that has haunted them in the tournament. 

Mohammad Nabi’s side are no different, they find themselves at the rock bottom of the Super four table. With a qualification place out of their reach too, this game will be a dead rubber, with only pride on line. 

India’s search for balance continues

Ravindra Jadeja’s injury has made selection tricky for the Indian management. While they strengthened the batting unit, with the inclusion of Deepak Hooda, the bowling department lacked the sixth bowling option that he offered. That was a bone of contention from India’s previous two fixtures – Pakistan and Sri Lanka – which also forced plenty of questions for Rohit at the post-match press conference.

Also read: India's Ravindra Jadeja headache

Ideally the combination we would play is four seamers, but three seamers was something we wanted to try before the World Cup. We need to find answers as a team, like where we are with five bowlers. We know now where we stand with this combination. No long-term worries, we have lost only two games back to back,” Rohit said.

With Avesh Khan reportedly ruled out of the tournament and with the contest in Dubai, could India field Deepak Chahar to give them an edge in the powerplay? It will be interesting to see who Rohit turns to. Another member waiting in the shed – Axar Patel – might too force himself into the conversation, purely on the back of his all-round abilities. 

The worry doesn’t end there for Rohit, India’s lack of firepower has indeed come as a big concern in the Asia Cup. So, will Dinesh Karthik walk right back into the playing XI? Your guess is as good as mine!

Afghanistan show potential yet again but results?

Some say Afghanistan have punched above their weight. Well, Afghanistan’s weight in international cricket, at least in the shortest format, is in the world-class range. With the development of Fazalhaq Farooqi, Azmatullah Omarzai and now, Fareed Ahmad, Afghanistan have a pace attack that can be considered truly a top-tier unit. 

When you add the likes of Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman to the mix, they have a bowling attack that can challenge anyone. Farooqi has picked up 17 wickets in the year for Afghanistan, and his form might well be crucial for Nabi’s side to challenge the top teams Down Under. 

While they might have lost a close encounter against Pakistan on Wednesday (September 7), the fight they showed was spectacular. However, there is a pattern that has stood in Afghanistan cricket for sometime now. They keep showing potential every tournament but a foot into the final stages of the tournament is where they lack the edge. 

Afghanistan’s skipper, Mohammad Nabi has struggled with the bat. Across his last eight innings, Nabi has scores of 5, 9, 6, 5, 0, 8, 1 and 0. While the top-order, in the form of Hazratullah Zazai and and Rahmanullah Gurbaz are firing all cylinders, the focus would be on the skipper to find his form. 

Could India be the contest where Nabi finds his touch yet again? And more than anything, it is yet another opportunity for Afghanistan to compete with the top dogs, ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia. 

Team News

It is tricky to pick a side for India now. But given how the lower order has struggled to give India the much-needed acceleration, the final encounter of their tournament could see the return of Dinesh Karthik. But it remains to be seen who he replaces in the setup. If India do want to still have a left-hander in the mix, they could very well bring in Axar Patel against a dominant right-handed batting unit in Afghanistan. 

India XI: Rohit Sharma (c), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik/Rishabh Pant (wk), Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal

For Afghanistan, barring any last-minute injuries, expect an unchanged side for the final clash of their competition. But if they do decide to tinker around, the only place up for grab would be Karim Janat’s, with the all-rounder making way for Naveen-ul-Haq? 

Afghanistan XI: Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi (c), Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Fazalhaq Farooqi

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India vs AfghanistanAsia Cup, 2022IndiaRohit SharmaDinesh KarthikAxar PatelFazalhaq FarooqiMohammad NabiMujeeb Ur RahmanRashid Khan

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