Business Standard

India squad for Asia Cup 2023: 5 key takeaways from selection announcement

In the press conference, chief selector Ajit Agarkar and captain Rohit Sharma said that this is the best set of players that will represent India at the Asia Cup

Team India chief selector Ajit Agarkar and skipper Rohit Sharma during the Asia Cup squad announcement in New Delhi, India. Photo: Twitter

Team India chief selector Ajit Agarkar and skipper Rohit Sharma during the Asia Cup squad announcement in New Delhi, India. Photo: Twitter

Abhishek Singh New Delhi
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)'s senior selection committee announced Team India's squad for the Asia Cup 2023 on Monday, August 21, 2023. Alongside skipper Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid, the Indian selectors tackled some underlying issues in the team ahead of the pivotal Asia Cup 2023 and the ODI World Cup 2023.

They addressed questions such as India's number four batting position, the second keeper dilemma, the leg spinner selection, and decided to include an extra pacer in the 17-man squad. Here are the key takeaways from the Indian squad selection:

The number four conundrum resolved 

The battle for the number four position saw players like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Suryakumar Yadav competing. Ishan Kishan also presented himself as an outside contender. All were included, but it will likely be Iyer or Rahul batting at this key position.

What do the numbers say about KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer?

Shreyas Iyer's experience includes batting at positions three, four, and five for India in ODI cricket, with the most innings at number four. His performance there has been strong, making him a sound choice.

KL Rahul, on the other hand, has mostly opened but will likely be a middle-order batter for this series. His success at number five also shows promise.

Rohit Sharma stated in the press conference that the batters would need to be flexible, hinting that Rahul's and Iyer's positions might interchange, possibly solving a long-standing issue in the Indian batting line-up.

The Kul-Cha question: Three spinners in the squad

“Kuldeep is a little bit ahead at this point in time, so Chahal has to miss out,” Ajit Agarkar said during the press conference answering why only Kuldeep Yadav between him and leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was chosen for the Asia Cup. Later on, skipper Rohit said that it is not the squad for the World Cup and Chahal could still be picked if it is in the right interests of the team. 

Kuldeep and Chahal have not played in ODIs together since one match against New Zealand in an ODI series at home in January 2023. The last time they played in tandem was way back in the 2019 World Cup. 

With Kuldeep showing all kinds of variation and improvement in his speed, chances were always high that he would be preferred over Chahal and that’s what happened. Along with him, two left-arm orthodox spinners- Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel were also picked in the side which had five pacers. 

Why have so many pacers been picked for a tournament in Asian conditions?

It might be bewildering for some people that India has gone in with five pacers in Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur and Prasidh Krishna. With Hardik Pandya bowling, it would be seven fast bowlers. It is unprecedented even for foreign tours., 

The logic behind this decision-making is first to reduce the workload of Bumrah and Siraj. Bumrah has just recovered from injury and Siraj is undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. 

The second reason is that due to the World Cup being played in Ocyober-November, India would face the issue of dew in the evening and pitches will be fresh in the afternoon due to the morning fog and chillness. 

So spinners wouldn’t be able to grab the ball properly in the evening while pacers would be the natural bowling choice to start in the afternoon. Hence only three pinners and seven fat bowling options were picked. 

The long rope: Ishan Kishan gets it, but Samson kept in loop too

In the absence of first-choice wicket-keeper Rishabh Pant, the question was always going to be between Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan. It is Kishan who has got the confirmation. The wicket-keeper had to bat either at number with Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya playing the finisher’s role or had to be the finisher with Surya at number four. The opening slot was never going to be that of the keepers.  

Sanju Samson has been given a lot of chances in recent times. Though he was not able to make them count in the T20Is in West Indies, he did score crucial runs in the ODIS. Since he has experience batting in the middle order, he could have been the preferred wicketkeeper’s choice if it was for the first-choice. But with Rahul back, he would certainly keep it. 

But in case he is unable to keep and gets to only bat, Kishan might come in as an opening batter in place of Shubman Gill if and when required. Since Iyer and Rahul were back, the chances for Samson were slim and he made it slimmer by not performing in crunch situations. 

But Smson has been kept in the reserves too, meaning that all is not lost for the Keralite. 

The buzz about the left-handers?

Former India cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar, on a show ahead of the Indian squad announcement, said, “For me, Kishan is the number two choice because he's a left-hander, which is why you also have Tilak Varma in consideration.”

But why do people want more left-handers in the squad when we already have Ravindra Jadeja? The answer to this is we only have Ravindra Jadeja and against left-arm spinners and leg-break bowlers, our right-handers have struggled considerably. To boost that, Axar Patel was also picked in the squad and so was Tilak Varma. 

Speaking on Axar’s selection ahead of the likes of Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin, Rohit said, “Axar provides the option of a left-hand batter, gives us batting depth.”

Since Tilak showed great promise in West Indies, it was but natural that he would be trusted. And with his ability to bowl in the middle, he might also get preference ahead of some seniors like Iyer or Rahul, if need be. However, he would not be the first choice, confirmed Agarkar. 

“Tilak showed real promise, temperament, good to take him along. Fortunately, we can take 17 here. So opportunity for him to be part of the team,” said Agarkar, meaning that he has only fit into the squad only because extra members can be carried. Will he make the 15 in the World Cup squad? It is hard to tell right now. 

India squad for Asia Cup 2023

Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna

Don't miss the most important news and views of the day. Get them on our Telegram channel

First Published: Aug 21 2023 | 9:33 PM IST

Explore News