Team India announced their squad for the upcoming Asia Cup in the UAE, giving a good indication of which players are likely to be on the plane to Australia for the 2022 T20 World Cup. The biggest headline from the Asia Cup squad is the return of Virat Kohli and KL Rahul to the Indian cricket team, while pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel miss out due to injury. Moreover, the selection of the 15-man squad and three reserves for the tournament also suggest the pecking order for current team India side and how the T20 World Cup squad is shaping up.
Team India’s squad for the Asia Cup: Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan
Reserves: Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel, Deepak Chahar
Of the 15 players selected to represent the Indian cricket team at the Asia Cup, ten of them will certainly be on the plane to Australia – Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
You can also add Jasprit Bumrah to that list once he recovers from his back injury at the NCA in Bangalore. That leaves four spots up for grabs for the upcoming World Cup which are still not 100% sealed, and here are the contenders fighting for their spot in the final 15.
Contenders: Deepak Hooda and Shreyas Iyer
With Deepak Hooda selected in the final 15-man squad for the Asia Cup and Shreyas Iyer demoted to the reserves, this spot seems to be finalized by Rohit Sharma and the Indian management ahead of the World Cup. Iyer was above Hooda in the pecking order following his man of the series showing against Sri Lanka in March. However, his troubles against pace and short-pitched bowling coupled with Hooda’s performances in India colours since the IPL have resulted in the Lucknow Super Giants all-rounder replacing the KKR captain as the reserve batter.
Hooda vs Iyer: T20Is in 2022
Additionally, Hooda can bat in more positions than Iyer in the batting order due to his ability to play different roles – anchor, finisher, pace/spin-hitter – while also offering a seventh-bowling option with his off-spin.
Verdict: Deepak Hooda
Contenders: Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi
Team India have selected Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravi Bishnoi for the Asia Cup squad, presumably indicating that the Men in Blue will play three spinners and two pacers + Hardik Pandya in the UAE. However, this Asia Cup squad selection is purely based on the spin-friendly conditions in the UAE, and one of the two players will drop out from the T20 World Cup squad in favour of Jasprit Bumrah.
Ashwin vs Bishnoi: T20Is since 2021
As the third spinner in the squad, Ashwin or Bishnoi are unlikely to play most games in the tournament but could come in against certain opposition due to matchups. As the numbers show, Ashwin is the more defensive bowler that will look to contain, while Bishnoi is more of a wicket-taker.
Ultimately, India’s decision of who to take to the World Cup may be a tactical choice rather than one purely based on ability. With Chahal in the squad, Ashwin offers variety with his off-spin – which is particularly useful against left-handers – and the all-rounder also provides the additional safety blanket of his batting at number eight.
Verdict: Ravichandran Ashwin
If Harshal Patel is not fit to go to the World Cup, Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh will both be on the plane to Australia as the third and fourth seamers in the squad alongside Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
However, if Patel does recover from his hip injury in time for the tournament in October, the Indian cricket team will have to choose between one of the two IPL stars. Both pacers offer different skillsets to Rohit Sharma’s side and have had different levels of success in their short spell on the international stage.
Arshdeep vs Avesh: T20Is since 2021
While Avesh has been expensive in India blue, the pacer’s skills are more suited to playing on Australian pitches, with his pace and ability to hit the hard lengths conducive to bouncy pitches in Australia. Arshdeep offers a left-arm option and someone who can bowl with the new ball and at the death, although he can’t rattle opposition batters with his pace and bounce.
You could make a feasible case for either bowler to be a part of the final 15, but with Arshdeep showing more promise on the international stage and delivering across all three phases of an innings, the left-armer may have the edge over Avesh at this stage.
Verdict: Arshdeep Singh
[Featured Image Credit: Indian Cricket Team]