India's Asia Cup Squad: The Hits And Misses
A well balanced Indian squad on paper but better choice of personnel desirable from selectors
India announced the 16-man squad for Asia Cup on Saturday and the main highlight was the absence of Virat Kohli’s name on the list. While that is a bit disappointing for the fans, the Indian skipper deserves the rest thoroughly after such a long tour of England. Moreover, it opens up one slot more to bring in and try more players before the World Cup gets underway next year. Rohit Sharma will lead the side in absence of Kohli and his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan has been named as his deputy. Despite Kohli’s omission, the squad is mostly full strength and consists of a few surprise picks too.
Squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan (vc), 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
There is hardly anything to complain about as far as the balance of the side is concerned. The squad is well rounded with five specialist batsmen, one batsman who can bowl part time spin, two wicket-keeper batsmen, two all-rounders, two specialist spinners and four fast bowlers.
While the top order looks fixed with Sharma and Dhawan slated to open and Rahul at No. 3, it is the middle order where we could see some rotation. MS Dhoni and Hardik Pandya are the only names that would remain constant in the middle order whereas the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu and Dinesh Karthik will fight for the remaining two slots in the XI. Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah look like the sure starters in the XI while Shardul Thakur and Khaleel Ahmed may get the occasional game. It looks like Axar Patel will have to sit out for most part of the tournament.
Despite the squad being decently balanced, there are still quite a few hits and misses.
The selection of Ambati Rayudu after he cleared the yo-yo test sends across the right signal. He will be competing for the No. 4 spot along with other players or can also go on to be a back up opener if the situation arises.
Manish Pandey, who has performed exceptionally well with the India B team by remaining unbeaten in all the games and hence leading his team to victory in the quadrangular series, has also been rewarded with a place. This obviously sends the signal across to the players that doors to the Indian team are always open for them if they perform.
Although Khaleel Ahmed’s domestic career is only two first class matches and a season of List-A cricket old, his selection shows the right intention as India need a left arm pacer to bring some variety to their bowling attack during their World Cup campaign next year. This is probably the best choice that MSK Prasad and Co. have made.
The dropping of Suresh Raina is also a good move as the southpaw from Uttar Pradesh couldn't cement his place in the numerous chances given to him. He is not as good as he once used to be and his exclusion will give the Indian team a move on.
There are are quite a few glaring misses as far as the selectors’ choices are concerned.
The reason behind the absence of Mayank Agarwal’s name in the squad still remains a mystery. He has performed brilliantly since last season and there is hardly anything more he can do to claim a spot in the Indian squad. His exclusion still remains surprising.
The selection of Axar Patel over Krunal Pandya isn't justified at all as the latter gas shown in numerous occasions during the IPL how he is a better limited overs player than the Gujarat southpaw. His selection over Krunal comes as a strange choice as well.
Also the omissions of names like Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant doesn't come across as a good message. At least one of them should have found a spot in the squad.
Moreover, the selectors could have thought about resting more key players for this tournament. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is coming on the back of a recovery from back injury and there was no need to rush him into things. Another second wing bowler could have got the chance to show his mettle in Kumar’s place.
Despite this misses, India is still one of the favorites to win the tournament. But the selectors definitely need to get better with their choice of players.