India will kick-off their Asia Cup 2022 campaign on August 28, Sunday, against arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai. Rohit Sharma had led India to the 2018 Asia Cup title when Virat Kohli was rested.
Now, Sharma is India’s full-time captain under whom the Men In Blue have won all the T20I series since he took over following the group stage exit at the T20 World Cup.
The selectors have announced a 15-man squad plus 3 reserve players, but India have been given two major blows as seamers Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel are ruled out due to injuries.
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
Shreyas Iyer, Axar Patel and Deepak Chahar have been named as standbys
Here are the 3 players who could prove to be India’s X-factor at Asia Cup 2022:
There are doubts among some fans whether Dinesh Karthik will make India’s best eleven in the Asia Cup and will start vs Pakistan. However, the argument for Karthik is that he has been in a scintillating form in the past few months and has nailed down the niche of a finisher’s role, first for RCB and then for India.
Karthik had smashed 330 runs at a strike rate of 183 during the IPL 2022, following which he got back into India’s T20I team after three years. He has produced two match-winning performances – vs South Africa and West Indies – and has shown that he’s one of the best in the world at hitting pacers in the death overs.
The management will want to have DK in the eleven, for they know that the 37-year-old could well make the difference between a par score and a match-winning one within a space of a dozen deliveries.
Ravichandran Ashwin has boosted his T20 stocks significantly since returning to the Indian team at the T20 World Cup last year: in 8 T20Is since his return, Ashwin has picked up 12 wickets and has an excellent economy of 5.78, which is amongst the best in the world during this period.
Ashwin has also taken his batting to a higher level – as shown during the IPL 2022 as he often batted higher than his usual positions for Rajasthan Royals, and scored 191 runs at a strike rate of 141, including a maiden IPL half-century.
Ashwin is likely to play in the Asia Cup as India may go with three spinners for the UAE conditions. This gives him another opportunity to showcase his match-winner calibre in the shortest format.
Hardik Pandya has been in supreme form since the IPL 2022, where he marched Gujarat Titans to their maiden title, while leading from the front with both bat and ball. Such impressive was Pandya’s contour as a captain and all-rounder in the IPL that he was promoted to the leadership group for India and even got the chance to lead the side in the two T20Is in Ireland.
In 27 T20 innings this year, Pandya has scored 768 runs at an average of 37 and strike rate of 134 with the help of 5 half-centuries, in addition to taking 16 wickets while bowling at an economy of 7.8. There doesn’t seem to be a bigger, more impactful match-winner in the Indian team at the moment, and is an indispensable member of the side.