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Asia Cup 2023: India opt for Kuldeep over Chahal, pacers get vote of confidence from team management

Updated: Aug 22, 2023

Asia Cup 2023 squad: Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna make ODI comeback; Yuzvendra Chahal dropped. KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Tilak Varma finds a place.

Asia Cup 2023 Squad: Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna make comeback, Yuzvendra Chahal dropped | Walking wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Bumrah, Krishna make comeback, Chahal dropped (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

A week ahead of Asia Cup 2023, slated to be held in Sri Lanka, the 17-member Indian squad has been announced for the tournament. Both KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who are recovering from long-term injuries and have been out of action for a considerable period, have got a place in the list of probables.

Tilak Varma gets maiden ODI call-up, Bumrah-Krishna return in ODI set-up

The squad announced in the press conference by the Chairman of Selectors, Ajit Agarkar, in the presence of Indian captain Rohit Sharma in Delhi includes the name of left-hand batter Tilak Varma, who is yet to make his ODI debut. Fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna, who made their comeback in the recently concluded Ireland T20I series, have also been included alongside Mohammad Shami and Mohammad Siraj.

All-rounders Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur will be the other pace bowling options, while Kuldeep Yadav has been given preference over Yuzvendra Chahal. Moreover, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are the two finger-spinning all-rounders who have been included in the squad devoid of pure off-spinners.

“In West Indies, we saw some real promise in terms of not just performances but the temperament, and it gives us an opportunity to take him with the team, give him some more exposure,” Agarkar said on Varma’s selection. “So fortunately, we take 17 here, it’ll be 15 at the World Cup, so when the time comes we’ll take that decision.”

It’s noteworthy that Sanju Samson has been selected as the traveling resource as KL Rahul has picked up a niggle and he could be unavailable for the first couple of games of the upcoming tournament.

India’s Asia Cup 2023 Squad

Rohit Sharma (Captain), Hardik Pandya (Vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Tilak Varma, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishan Kishan, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna, Sanju Samson (Back-up).

India’s positives and possible combinations from the squad

IRE vs IND, 1st T20I 2023_ India beat Ireland by 2 runs as per D_L method _Walking wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Bumrah, Krishna returns of ODI team (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
India could go with three pure pacers or two pace bowling all-rounders

Looking at the squad for the Asia Cup, which is a reflection of host India’s squad for the upcoming ICC ODI World Cup 2023, the fast-bowling department seems to have shaped up nicely with the return of Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna.

Bumrah, who was the highest wicket taker for India with 18 scalps in nine games during the 2019 World Cup, was the missing piece in the puzzle in the last few months. Krishna too has potential to use his height to extract bounce off the surface and has made it tough for the batters on subcontinental surfaces.

The No. 4 bowler in ICC ODI ranking, Siraj is going strong with 43 wickets in 24-ODIs. He is joined by the veteran Shami who has been excellent with the new ball in recent times. They will be fully supported by Pandya and Thakur, the two all-rounders who keep taking important wickets when the team needs them the most.

In the spin department however, Yadav is the lone pure spinner who since January 2022 is India’s third highest ODI wicket taker with 34 wickets in 19 games, at an impressive average of 20.91 and economy of 4.91. Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel are the two spinning all-rounders whom the team will have to rely upon heavily in the tournament.

India vs SA, 1st T20I, 2022, Top Performances_ Ishan Kishan's 76 runs goes in vain as South Africa beat India in 1st T20I (Images ©BCCI)
Kishan gets an edge over Sanju in Asia Cup squad (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
India aims for flexibility in the batting order

Rohit Sharma opening the batting with Virat Kohli coming in at number three is sealed for now, but the question still remains around the perfect opening partner for Rohit. With Rahul’s probable absence for a few games at the start of the tournament, India would likely have to settle with wicket-keeper Ishan Kishan.

Shubman Gill could come in at number four with Iyer getting back to his usual number five position. It seems like Pandya and Jadeja will follow, according to the situation.

“You don’t want to be handicapped or stuck with one player batting in one position. Having said that, you want to get the best out of players in certain positions,” the Captain said during the press. “All seven-eight (positions) are open to anyone, that’s the message we have sent out for so many years now.”

One thing is clear that among the three options between Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav and Varma, only one would get the chance to perform, and in all likelihood, it is going to be Iyer, who even after missing a good amount of time due to injury is still the second-highest run scorer for India in ODIs since January 2022 - with 818 runs in 18 innings at an average of 51.12.

Considering all the factors, the team would have to choose between two combinations. Either go with five batters, Hardik and Jadeja as their all-rounders besides three pacers and Kuldeep Yadav as the spinner or they could plan for five batters, Hardik and Shardul as the pace bowling all-rounders, besides two pacers and spin options - Yadav & Jadeja.

India vs SA, 3rd T20I, 2022, Top Performances_ Yuzvendra Chahal takes 3-20 and helps India beat South Africa in 3rd T20I _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI)
Chahal find no place in Asia Cup 2023 squad (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Chahal’s omission comes as a shock

Chahal’s omission from the squad has come as a shocker for many. The selectors addressed this and said it was done to reinforce the depth in batting, and that the selectors and team management were on the same page in this decision.

“(Chahal has been) A terrific performer for India but sometimes, it’s just the balance of the team,” Agarkar said. “You are looking at guys like Axar who can bat as well. Kuldeep has had a fantastic run at this point. To fit two wrist spinners might be difficult, so unfortunately one has to miss out.”

Even though it comes as a surprise but Yuzvendra Chahal has been sidelined for the past 12-18 months now, and it seems to have been the basis of the decision.

There were discussions about the inclusion of an off-spinner in the squad, either Ravichandran Ashwin or Washington Sundar, who would have come in handy but again their inclusion would have meant taking the place away from a seamer, something which the management wasn’t keen on doing.

“We thought about the off-spinner, Ashwin and Washington Sundar. The only way we could have done that (selected another spinner) was at the expense of a seamer and we can’t really do that because seamers are going to play a very important role in the next two months,” Sharma explained.

India could have added Arshdeep Singh for a left-arm fast-bowling option, but just like Chahal, Singh too hasn’t got enough chances in the ODIs and he has mainly been a part of India’s T20I plans. Even in the recently concluded ODI series against West Indies, in the absence of the senior pace bowlers, he wasn’t even a part of the squad.

The Asia Cup 2023 starts on August 30. India will kick off their campaign on September 2 with a high-voltage clash against Pakistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Kandy.


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