India will enter Asia Cup 2022 in the UAE as the defending champions of the competition. As usual, the Rohit Sharma-led side will once again start as the hot favourites to win the competition despite the absence of senior pacer Jasprit Bumrah and death-overs specialist Harshal Patel.
Though there are some doubts over who will feature in the starting eleven ahead of the Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, cricket fans can be optimistic about India successfully retaining the title. India’s journey in Asia Cup 2022 begins from August 28 against arch-rivals Pakistan, before facing the qualifying team on August 31. But India’s real challenge will begin when the Super Four stage comes.
One of the most striking features of India’s T20I game since their early exit in the Men’s T20 World Cup has been the side shrugging off their safety-first approach and embracing a more aggressive approach with the bat at the top. The result of which has been that India go hard in their batting innings, with their run-rate in 2022 at a healthy 9.29, compared to 8.20.
“We’ve made it very clear after the T20 World Cup in Dubai, where we didn’t qualify for the finals, that we felt there needed to be a change in our attitude and approach in how we play our game. If the message is clear from the captain and the coach about where the team is trying to head, then the individuals will definitely try to do that.
“For that to happen they need freedom and clarity and that’s what we are trying to do. We are trying to give them as much freedom as possible,” revealed Rohit on “Follow the Blues” show on Star Sports about bringing a change in India’s batting approach.
Rohit himself has been in brilliant form, playing the high-risk shots in the power-play to get better returns. Suryakumar Yadav and Deepak Hooda have been in brilliant form while Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik are capable of providing big-bang finishing touches to the innings. Once Virat Kohli and KL Rahul embrace India’s new batting approach, then India’s batting stocks are bound to go high.
Since last year’s World Cup, when Rohit has been the full-time captain and Rahul Dravid as the head coach, India have won six of their seven bilateral T20I series, barring the one against South Africa, which was shared 2-2 after rain had washed out the decider in Bengaluru in June. Rohit also acknowledged how having a great cricketing brain like Dravid as head coach was the foundation stone of India’s new style of playing T20Is.
“When he (Dravid) became a coach here, we met and sat together in a room for a while and decided how we want to take this thing forward and he was pretty much on the same thought process as to what I was thinking.”
“That made it a little easier for me to give out a clear message to the boys because we don’t want to create confusion among the group; and of course, we wanted him to change the style of cricket as well. We wanted to play a certain way in all three formats and he was ready to accept all of that.”
Despite the absence of Bumrah and Patel, India still have the presence of senior pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is back to his best self since the T20Is against South Africa in June and making the big strikes in power-play. India will also be buoyed with young left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh’s glowing performances in the T20I series against West Indies, where he picked seven wickets in five matches.
In the spin department, Ravichandran Ashwin showed he still has it in him to contribute in T20Is. Yuzvendra Chahal has been in great form and is all but confirmed to be the first-choice spinner.
But if the batting order of the opposition is loaded with right-handers, then Ravindra Jadeja comes into the mix. Ravi Bishnoi is an excellent user of deceptive googly and is a nice back-up option on pitches of the UAE.
In all, with a new batting template and variety in bowling options leading to great form in the last couple of months, one can be very hopeful that the above factors can lead to India winning Asia Cup for the eighth straight time.