Captain Virat Kohli believes swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar will prove a handful and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin will also boost India’s hopes at the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup.
The Indian team for Asia Cup was announced recently. Virat Kohli has been rested and rightly so as he was nursing a bad back throughout the Test series in England.
Rohit Sharma, India’s vice-captain in this format, gets to captain the team. MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav all return to the ODI team as expected.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who missed the Test series, in England returns to take the new ball in the ODIs and Jasprit Bumrah also makes it back into the ODI team after missing the series against England, while Manish Pandey also makes a comeback after some stunning performances on A tours.
The biggest disappointment though is the middle order. Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav and Dinesh Karthik have been recalled into the XI. The Asia Cup not only has Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh, it also features some associate nations and this would have been the right time to blood some young batters in the XI.
Rishabh Pant, who has shown great promise in Test, should be the understudy to MS Dhoni in both T20 and ODI’s.
Karthik has had enough chances now and is currently 33 years old. The Indian selections in recent times has been short-sighted and it is disappointing that they are continuing in that vein.
Mohammad Siraj, who has been blasting teams out on A tours, is another glaring omission from the side. Siraj has a list A average of 20 with three five-wicket hauls and he performed brilliantly on the England tour as well as in the home quadrangular series against Australia A and South Africa A.
He is 24 and is at the right age to make his ODI debut for India. The selectors picked him in his least effective format, T20, and have discarded him in spite of some amazing performances.
Then there is young Prasidh Krishna as well who has amazing list A record and has done very well recently on A tours. The world cup is less than a year away and the Indian ODI team is nowhere near settled.
The series loss in England highlighted India’s reliance on the top three batters and this was their chance to try out some young players ahead of the marquee tournament.
Over the last couple of years, India has auditioned some young players like Shreyas Iyer, but they no longer feature in the ODI plans.
The other spot which hasn’t been explored is that of Krunal Pandya who, again, gets ignored in the shorter formats.
Krunal is a great spin bowling all-rounder, an option which India will do well to try as he gives the team the option of playing an effective spinner who can give quick runs lower down the order.
The selection of Khaleel Ahmed is a good one though, as he offers some variety to the Indian pace attack.
The selectors have once again faltered by calling back players whom they had dropped in the past for poor performances. India may well win the Asia Cup with this team but, in the long run, these selections will be detrimental to the team’s progress.