Asia Cup 2022 is set to kick-off with Sri Lanka taking on Afghanistan in the tournament opener on Saturday, August 27 in Dubai. The marquee clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan is slated for August 28 in Dubai.
The schedule was announced by Jay Shah, the ACC President and BCCI Secretary earlier this month.
The wait is finally over as the battle for Asian supremacy commences on 27th August with the all-important final on 11th September.
The 15th edition of the Asia Cup will serve as ideal preparation ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup. pic.twitter.com/QfTskWX6RD
— Jay Shah (@JayShah) August 2, 2022
India, Pakistan and a qualifier team are in Group A while Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are in Group B. The top-two teams from each group will further play in a ‘Super 4’ round, meaning a high possibility of another India-Pakistan encounter.
The 4 teams in Super 4 will play each other once with the top two battling it out in the final – meaning a third possibility of an India-Pakistan match – on September 11.
India are the defending champions having won the tournament in 2018 – under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy when Virat Kohli was tested and it was in 50-over format. India also won the 2016 edition which was in 20-over format. This time again, with an eye on the T20 World Cup in October in Australia, the tournament in 20-over format.
Predicting India’s best 15-man squad for Asia Cup
Assuming that everyone will be fit and available, India will welcome the returns of KL Rahul – who is recovering from a hernia surgery and covid-19 that ruled him out of the West Indies tour – and Virat Kohli, who has been on a break since the conclusion of the England tour last month. Rahul has, in fact, not played a single T20I for India this year owing to rest and injury but had a brilliant IPL 2022 campaign for Lucknow ransacking over 600 runs once again.
Kohli, though, will be effectively, as many believe, auditioning himself for the T20 World Cup and that his spot in the T20I side is not certain now given his dismal form in recent months.
Nonetheless, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli will form India’s top three along with skipper Rohit Sharma.
The likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Dinesh Karthik have all sealed their places in India’s eleven with their thunderous form since the start of IPL 2022. Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja are other almost certainties in India’s first-choice eleven, although now it’s will be difficult to fit all of Suryakumar, Karthik, and Pant in the same line-up when Kohli and Rahul return.
So the management will have to take a bold and unpopular selection call to leave out any one of them from the eleven or either shorten the bowling which they are unlikely to do because Pandya and Jadeja are not yet four overs consistent bank.
In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal have sealed spots in the eleven. Whereas Arshdeep Singh and Harshal Patel are also largely expected to make in the final 15.
The big question remains whether India recall Mohammed Shami for the T20I squad; Shami hasn’t played a single T20I game for India since the T20 World Cup last November, but he has been given breaks from the shortest format to be fresh for the Test and ODI matches.
His form in the IPL 2022 for Gujarat Titans – 20 wickets, out of which 11 were in the powerplay, the joint-most by any bowler – will keep him in selectors’ radar.
Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Hooda, Sanju Samson and Ishan Kishan are the ones fighting for a back-up spot in the 15-man squad, so will be Axar Patel and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Given India have already tried the likes of Suryakumar and Pant as openers in recent series, they are likely to exclude Kishan and Samson from the squad. Shreyas Iyer’s struggles against pacers have hurt his case in the shortest format. Also, the selection of an extra pacer or spinner will depend on what conditions the management is expecting in the UAE.
So, here is India’s predicted 15-man squad:
Rohit Sharma (C), KL Rahul (VC), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Hooda, Harshal Patel, Mohammed Shami/R Ashwin