The Asia Cup was postponed by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and is scheduled for the final week of June according to reports. With India set to extend their stay in England following the World Test Championship for the England series in late July to avoid multiple quarantines, India’s Asia Cup participation remains in doubt.
However, there are talks of them planning to send a second-string side for the series. If so, the players from the Test squad – Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Ravindra Jadeja, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Washington Sundar, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar among others – would miss out on selection. Here’s a look at what India ‘s best XI could be in this case.
KL Rahul (c), Shikhar Dhawan
KL Rahul might miss out on Test selection after warming the bench for a while now, and will be the ideal candidate to open the batting in the Asia Cup, which is set to be played in the T20 format as preparation for the T20 World Cup. Since his debut in T20Is, only one other batsman (Babar Azam) has made more runs than Rahul. With a strike-rate of 144.92 and an average in the mid-40s, Rahul’s place is assured in the XI. Rahul could also captain this side.
Shikhar Dhawan showed improved intent in the powerplay overs in IPL 2020, finishing as the second-highest run-scorer, behind Rahul, with 618 runs.
Middle-order & wicketkeeper
Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson
In Virat Kohli’s absence, Shreyas Iyer takes up the No.3 role. While his strike-rate remains questionable, Iyer adds stability and with enough hitters batting around him, Iyer could make a positive impact. The middle-order is packed with brilliant players of spin and pace: Kishan, Suryakumar and Samson with the Mumbai Indians left-hander likely to don the gloves given Samson’s fielding abilities.
Alongside Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant, there’s an argument the three should make up the middle-order batsmen India use in T20Is even when a full-strength team is available. The intent and power hitting skills the three have make Iyer a stronger presence at No.3 in this line-up.
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With Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar expected to travel with the extended Indian Test team for the WTC final, the all-rounder’s slot goes to Tewatia, who not only offers an additional spin option, but also adds firepower to the lower middle-order.
Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, T Natarajan, Varun Chakravarthy
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Siraj are near-certain to fly to England for the WTC finals. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, aided by his ability to swing the ball, could also be a part of this trip. This narrows down India’s choices, but Deepak Chahar and T Natarajan step in as the two pace-bowling options. Navdeep Saini is another who could come in should there be another pace bowler needed. Yuzvendra Chahal will be joined by Varun Chakravarthy, already part of the T20I squad for the England series, in the spin department with Tewatia another spin-bowling option in the team.
Possible India Asia Cup T20I XI: KL Rahul (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Sanju Samson, Rahul Tewatia, Deepak Chahar, Yuzvendra Chahal, T Natarajan, Varun Chakravarthy
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