The expectations for Team India coming into the 2022 Asia Cup weren’t overly ambitious. Rohit Sharma’s men excelled the shortest format of the game, which made them firm favourites to lift the trophy in the Middle East. While they got off to the best start possible, with wins over Pakistan and Hong Kong, they suffered the worst possible results during the Super four stage.
Twice against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, India’s bowling unit suffered and were not helped too much by the batting unit as well. However, the early exit won’t bog down the Men in Blue, as stand-in skipper KL Rahul said in the press conference that the team is always looking to get better.
“As a team, we are always looking to get better (in all aspects of the game),” Rahul reflected in the post-match press conference.
“Individually as well, there is a lot of time spent with the coaches to look at where and how we can improve to be successful in Australia. We try and practice that, we execute that in the middle during the matches. We are not looking to be a perfect team, we are only trying to find different ways to be successful. This tournament was a good learning for us, we were challenged of batting first.”
Rahul also brushed off any injury scare, stating that Rohit, Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal were rested for the encounter against Afghanistan.
“We are just trying to manage everybody’s workload. They have been playing continuously since the IPL, so we wanted to give them a rest and try out the others. It was the perfect opportunity for us to do that. It is good to take a break when they can afford one,” he said.
However, the 30-year-old admitted that the situation is completely different for him. After undergoing a surgery and recovering recently from COVID-19, Rahul insisted that only more game time will help him find his own feet, ahead of the T20 World Cup Down Under.
“For me, workload is not a big question mark, because I’m just coming back from almost 2-3 months of break. It is more about getting more game time, only that can make me feel good about my game and body. Happy to get these few games before going Down Under. It is important to spend some more time in the middle and try challenging ourselves against tough opponent,” he stated.
Not too fazed by the results
On the larger scheme of things, the opening batter admitted that the team was not chasing results and would not be too rattled by the early elimination from the Asia Cup. Having said that, the right-hander insisted that the disappointment here in the Middle East will only make the team hungrier ahead of the showpiece event in Australia.
“As a team or as individuals, we don’t try to chase the results. As much as possible, we try to remain balanced. It is disappointing but we want to take it as a learning. We judge ourselves just on how much efforts we put in the middle.
“Unfortunately, we have been on the losing side but it doesn’t mean that we haven’t put in the efforts. In small margins, we couldn’t capitalize and that’s about that. These small mistakes do cost us big but we won’t get rattled by this. It will help us be hungrier for the World Cup.”
Rahul also revealed that toss wasn’t that big a factor this time around in the Middle East, unlike the T20 World Cup last year. However, the right-hander was quick in pointing out that the team has to adapt themselves as soon as possible to the conditions, something that Sri Lanka and Pakistan have done well in the tournament. Another key aspect pointed out by Rahul at the post-match press conference was the death-bowling, with the Men in Blue averaging 23.9 with the ball in the final phase of the innings.
“I don’t think the toss has played such a big part here like it did in the World Cup. There wasn’t much dew, having said that, the teams that are playing in the final bowled really well at the death. They adapted better to the conditions and their assessment of the conditions were top-notch. As a team, it is a learning curve for us, we need to adapt ourselves as soon as possible.”