India will begin their Asia Cup 2022 title defence on Sunday, in a high-voltage clash against Pakistan. India have Pakistan and Hong Kong in Group A, and top two teams will proceed to the Super 4 round, where they will meet the top two teams from the Group B, which consists of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Here is India’s squad for Asia Cup 2022:
Rohit Sharma (Captain), KL Rahul (vice-captain), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Deepak Hooda, Rishabh Pant (wicket-keeper), Dinesh Karthik (wicket-keeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan
Standbys: Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel and Deepak Chahar
Given all the matches are of great significance, captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid would want to play their best eleven, combination-wise, condition wise and opposition-wise in order to be in the best position to reach the final.
However, there is a chance that these three players from the main 15-man squad may not get even a single game:
Having made his T20I debut earlier this year, Deepak Hooda was selected in the 15-man squad ahead of Shreyas Iyer, who is in the standbys, and Sanju Samson, who is not even in the contingent.
Hooda’s T20I numbers justify his selection: in 7 T20I innings, Hooda has plundered 274 runs at a strike rate of 161 and average of 54; he notched up a century vs Ireland. Hooda’s aggressive, intent-filled batting fits perfectly in India’s newly adopted aggressive brand of cricket.
However, Hooda is unlikely to be a starter in the eleven given both KL Rahul and Virat Kohli are back in the side. The fact that someone as in form as Dinesh Karthik may miss out from the eleven is a testament to India’s strength in depth in the batting department, making it all the more difficult for Hooda to get in the eleven.
Avesh Khan stands to be the player who is the least likely to get a game, or more than one game if India qualifies for the final before their last Super 4 match. For a simple combination reason: in the UAE conditions, India are unlikely to play more than two genuine pacers – Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep – given that Hardik Pandya is also now bowling 3-4 overs.
Avesh has been inconsistent and expensive with the ball, though he’s produced a couple of match-winning performances.
Ravi Bishnoi has been brilliant in T20I since making his debut in February: in 9 T20I, he has 15 wickets and has conceded at an economy of 7.15; his best of 4/16 came in his last match vs West Indies.
However, Bishnoi is also not expected to start in the first eleven: Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal are certain starters, while India might be tilted toward going with veteran off-spinner R Ashwin against teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (if they face them) considering left-handers in their top-orders.
Although Bishnoi is categorized as a leg-spinner, the googly is his stock ball which works to tie down left-handers but could backfire against right-handers. In that case, a senior pro in Ashwin, who also will provide the much-vaunted batting depth, may get the nod of the management.