Indian cricket team selectors will have much on their plate when they decide on the Asia Cup 2023 squad
After the end of the West Indies tour, Indian cricket team’s next assignment will be the Ireland Tour, where the big and much-awaited return of star pacer Jasprit Bumrah will happen. Out of action since late last year, Bumrah’s performance will be closely watched as, on him hinges Indian cricket team’s strategy for the Asia Cup 2023 and most importantly the ODI World Cup 2023. It is not just Bumrah’s return that will be closely watched, as there are many more areas which needs urgent address from the BCCI selectors, when they sit for the team selection of the Asia Cup 2023.
The squad for the continental event will more or less settle the majority of the line-up for the 2023 World Cup team, that starts in the first week of October. Though, India also play Australia in an ODI series just ahead of the World Cup, the team management may not want to leave it that late.
India captain Rohit Sharma recently mentioned that the problems of the middle-order remains. He also stated it not not necessary that only experienced players will get chance.
As Indian selectors gear up to the team discussion, we look at the points which might be pondering upon
Top-order and the contingency plan
Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli looks to be the top three as of now. Rohit and Kohli are the two most senior batters while Gill has grown in his stature in the last one year. Between Kohli (12898 runs in 275 ODIs) and Rohit (9837 runs in 244 ODIs) India have two absolute ODI run-machines. Gill is a youngster and his recebt form is not that great. So, will the selectors take thier punt on any other option as a back up plan?
Wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan was tried in the top-order in the West Indies series and scored decent amount runs too. He is left-handed and brings another dimension to the game.
The big No. 4 conundrum
This has been India’s most shaky spot in the recent past. Prior to the 2019 World Cup, India had the same doubt. Ambati Rayudu was tried but ultimately Vijay Shankar made the mark when the final squad was announced. This time the confusion is greater. Had Shreyas Iyer been fit and in form, he would have been the No. 1 choice for the role.
But he and KL Rahul, another likely contender for a spot in the squad, started match simulation only on Monday and lengthy injury recovery. Rahul had been opening for India but then lost his spot due to injury and poor form. They have the pedigree, but questions remain on their fitness and match readiness.
Wicketkeeper batter Sanju Samson and rookie left-hander Tilak Varma are the two other options. Samson blew hot an cold in the West Indies tour, while Varma made a great early impression in his maiden India series. With Rohit saying that rookies can also be selected for the World, Varma will most likely remain in the scheme of things for the next one and half months of preparation ahead of the mega event. So, will be Suryakumar Yadav. A T20 great, he himself admitted that his ODI form is nothing great. Still, with lack of other options and his ability to give momentum in the latter part of the innings, Yadav is likely to get more chances.
This is to being talked about much, but one clear trend is that the Indian selectors may go with a all left-hander combination. Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has shown the guile while the experience of Ravindra Jadeja is impossible to be ignored. The question is on spinning tracks, it India decide to go with three spinners, who will that third spinner be?
Yuzvendra Chahal is the first name that comes to the mind but he was not tried at all in the ODI series against West Indies. Axar Patel is another option and Indian team did go with three left-arm spinners in the second ODI against West Indies.
The pace battery
If Bumrah show that his fitness is up to the mark then the equation is simple. He will return to lead the pace attack with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj being the other options. Many greats have backed Umran Malik and his raw pace, but he has not been able to be disciplined with his bowling. That might work against him. Left-hander Arshdeep Singh is a better option, also with his left-arm pace he brings in a variety.
Amidst such specialist pacers, Shardul Thakur is also capable to making a space for himself. He provides that batting depth and can give breakthroughs too.