5 Key Players for India’s Asia Cup Campaign
India is all set to start their Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on Saturday. The BCCI announced a 17-member squad for the upcoming tournament with Sanju Samson as the travelling reserve. The group saw the return of several pivotal members such as KL Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, and Prasidh Krishna.
The last time when India won the Asia Cup was under the captaincy of Rohit Sharma in 2018, beating Bangladesh in the Final. Since then, the honorary event occurred once in the year 2022 when the Men in Blue side finished third in the Super Four stage and failed to make it to the final.
With the 2023 World Cup to kick off in a couple of months, the Continental championship serves as a great preparation for the monumental event. Let us have a quick glance at the five key players for the Rohit Sharma-led unit’s next assignment in the Asia Cup.
#5 Ravindra Jadeja
All-rounders always hold a special place in a team’s playing XI and Ravindra Jadeja is no less when it comes to the current Indian team. The 34-year-old has been a revelation with the bat in hand for the past few years and we have seen him glue crucial partnerships with the lower order and the tail in various circumstances across formats.
Also, Jadeja’s performance with the ball in hand is undeniable. The Jamnagar-based cricketer has overall snapped 53 ODI wickets from 50 innings against Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
His left-arm orthodox spin is going to be an important aspect during the middle overs of matches. Moreover, Jadeja is likely to get good assistance from the Lankan surfaces and is going to be an indispensable asset to the team in the upcoming competitions.
#4 Jasprit Bumrah
It’s a no-brainer that India missed the services of Jasprit Bumrah in the last couple of ICC events- the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia, and the 2023 World Test Championship Final in Kensington Oval, Surrey. His unique abilities with the white cherry are a boon to the Indian side and make the bowling attack sound formidable.
Bumrah is back after 10 months and captained the Indian contingent that toured to Ireland for a three-match T20I series. His second delivery of the series transpired to be a peach of an in-swinger that rattled the stumps through the gates of Irish skipper, Andy Balbirnie.
The Gujarat-based cricketer has earned 63 wickets from 37 ODI matches for the national side so far in Asian conditions. What’s amazing is that in every 14 overs, the right-arm pacer bowls a maiden in ODIs on Asian strips.
Bumrah’s special ability to bowl predominantly across all conditions of a match makes him one of the leaders of the pack in the Indian set-up. Henceforth, the 29-year-old is one of the mainstays of the Indian team and the fans would be hoping to see him soar and stamp authority with his corkers.
#3 Shreyas Iyer
The Kolkata Knight Riders captain is arriving after rehabilitation from a grave injury which ruled him out of the 4th Test of the 2022-23 Border Gavaskar Trophy and the cash-rich league, IPL. But the good news that prevailed in the cricketing air was that the Mumbaikar is a part of the Indian squad for the Asia Cup 2023 and was spotted batting at the nets with Virat Kohli during the team’s conditioning camp on August 25.
The No.4 position in the Indian team has always been a debacle in the post-Yuvi era. Indian cricket has witnessed several nominees for the particular loci but none cemented it. But from all the candidates, Shreyas was one of the promising ones but suffered injuries every now and then with the latest being the recurrence of the back issue.
The right-handed batter was looked at as the future in the Indian middle order and is one of the finest players of spin. With an impressive runs per innings rate in the Asian conditions, Iyer is one of the frontrunners for the second down position in the Indian batting order for the bigger events on queue.
#2 Kuldeep Yadav
Kuldeep Yadav has gained the upper hand of the selection committee over the likes of Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin for the Asia Cup 2022 squad. The chinaman spinner’s performance in the last few months speaks for him.
The Uttar Pradesh-centric spinner has scalped 29 wickets from 15 ODI innings in the 2022-23 season. He may be a tad expensive at times but the knack for wickets makes Kuldeep one of the best in the business when it comes to spinning webs around the batter.
The left-arm wrist spinner adds a different flavour to the Indian spin department, allowing the ball to come naturally into the right-hander, mixing up with the wrong’un and occasional top-spinners.
Kuldeep has managed to bag 30 wickets from 18 innings across formats in the calendar year 2023 with an impressive average of 17.30. His economy lures just above 5.0 and has toppled the opposition in every 20 deliveries in the particular year. He is going to be the primary spinner alongside either Jadeja or Axar Patel for the upcoming Asian tournament.
#1 Virat Kohli
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, such has been the stature of Virat Kohli in bigger events for India. He is not just a name but an emotion to the Indian fans. His body language with the bat in hand is the epitome of a mastermind of this generation.
After a rough patch in 2020-21, Kohli announced his incarnation during the 2022 Asia Cup where he was the second-highest run-getter of the tournament with 276 runs from 5 innings. He averaged 92 with the bat in hand with his most-awaited 71st century coming against Hong Kong.
Since then, the former Indian captain has played some outrageous innings and thrashed the opposition in his own style. When it comes to numbers in the 50-over format, Kohli has accumulated runs at an average of 47.44. To back his performance stature with some more stats, the 35-year-old has amassed 613 runs at an average of 61.30 in Asia Cup ODI matches.
Undoubtedly, he is one of the best batters of the modern era who can dominate spin and pace on his own will. His integer values escalate up to 7443 in 148 innings with a spellbinding average of 58.14 in Asia.