By: Aashay Chavan
The Indian squad, one of the favorites to win this tournament, makes headlines not for who is in the team in this edition of the cup, but rather for the one who is not. The selectors have decided to rest the captain and best batsman in the world: Virat Kohli.
It makes sense: India’s recent workload has been egregious. The five-match Test series against England ended September 11th, four days before the start of the Asia Cup. Since April, Indian players had the IPL and then the tour of Ireland/ England. After this Asia Cup, India has a home Test series against the West Indies followed by a grueling tour of Australia. The plan appears to be to sneak in some rest for Kohli with an eye on the upcoming World Cup next year.
Rohit Sharma will captain with Shikhar Dhawan as vice captain. It looks like KL Rahul will be the No. 3 batsman after a strong performance in England. Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu, and Kedar Jadhav are all replacing Suresh Raina, Umesh Yadav, and Siddarth Kaul from the England ODI series. It’s not an inspiring middle order, which continues to be India’s biggest issue.
The bowling department brings back top seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. All-rounder Hardik Pandya will look to fulfill the role of third seamer and can hopefully provide run support in the middle order. Wristspinners Kuldeep Yadhav and Yuzvendra Chahal will hope to supplement each other in the middle and the death overs. Axar Patel might get a look as a left-handed all-rounder.
There is one new face in the squad: 20 year-old Khaleel Ahmed. The selectors wanted a left arm pace option and though he only has a couple first class matches experience, he shined in the India-A tournaments he’s played in. If Pandya can’t click, Ahmed might be given an opportunity.
India shouldn’t have to worry too much about advancing out of the group stage, but could face some challenges in the Final Four pool. This is one of the favorites to win, but the lack of Kohli’s runs could eventually do India in.
Full Squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (WK), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed
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