India didn’t have a good time in Asia Cup 2014 © AFP
Asia Cup 2014 was just a prelude to the ICC World T20 2014 starting in less than 10 days time. Abhijit Banare looks at the performance of India in the Asia Cup and what do the results mean for their ICC World T20 campaign.
Batsmen still rule
The batsmen are always in the limelight, irrespective of the results. Rohit Sharma looks like the old Rohit struggling to play fluently. So much so that it forced Virat Kohli to put Ajinkya Rahane up the batting order. Barring Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rahane, none of the others were impressive in Asia Cup 2014. However, in ICC World T20 2014 , it’s unlikely; the Indians would risk Rahane as the opener. There’s isn’t an opening for Rahane in the middle-order as well. The only difference is that the finisher MS Dhoni comes back into the team to slot into the middle-order and Ravindra Jadeja has been batting well too. So, India’s fortunes in ICC World T20 2014 will revolve around Kohli and Dhoni.
Pace attack is still the same!
The pacers did what has been usually expected from them — concede runs in the death overs and struggle to pick up wickets. It’s a déjà vu in this department. Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are still looking like the certainties with Shami picking wickets and leaking runs, while Bhuvneshwar struggles with his death overs bowling. Varun Aaron looked off colour, spraying the balls all around; Mohit Sharma too doesn’t have much experience. It would be interesting to see whether either Aaron or Mohit inspires confidence in the captain-coach to feature in the playing XI.
Ravichandran Ashwin (left), Amit Mishra (centre) and Ravindra Jadeja will look to make their mark in ICC World T20 2014 © AFP
Ravichandran Ashwin’s change in action and spinners impressive
After all the commotion over changing of Ravichandran Ashwin’s bowling action (inspired by Sunil Narine if you wish to put it that way), Ashwin looked comfortable picking wickets with his old action. The only worry here is, he is taking far more wickets with his carom ball than the traditional off-spinners! Ashwin will still continue to be Dhoni’s go-to-man for T20Is with Jadeja continuing to stay on par with expectations. Jadeja has learnt the art of keeping the batsmen quiet on flat decks. The surprise here is that of Amit Mishra. Despite being a tourist with the Indian team for a few series now, Mishra was the most impressive in the last two matches he played. Don’t be surprised if Dhoni picks three spinners in the playing XI with just two pacers in Shami and Bhuvneshwar.
Old hands, Suresh Raina (left) and Yuvraj Singh (batting in picture) have vital roles to play in the middle-order in ICC World T20 2014 © Getty Images
Revamp in middle-order
A fairly untested and raw Indian middle-order couldn’t muster enough confidence in their performance in Asia Cup. Starting with Rahane followed by Ambati Rayudu did show some promise, but that promise is yet to convince the selectors. And the continued absence of Cheteshwar Pujara only makes the debate over the One-Day International (ODI) middle-order more interesting. Rahane did well in the match against Bangladesh and then shone brightly against Afghanistan, but in rest of the two matches, he gifted his wicket away. Rayudu earned himself a few more matches with a fifty against Pakistan. But Karthik’s performance was disappointing. Come the World T20, India will be back to consuming its old medicines with Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh back to manning the middle-order.
The close calls:
The Men in Blue failed to win a single match in their last two ODI series in South Africa and New Zealand. The Asia Cup losses to Sri Lanka and Pakistan were not meek surrenders. The records may show they lost, but India didn’t conceded those games easily.
What’s there for World T20:
- It’s not just the Indian team, but all the five teams who participated in Asia Cup will have a fair idea of how the pitch behaves in Bangladesh and more significantly, learnt the pros and cons of the opposition as well on such a wicket. Spinners will continue to play a crucial role.
- Don’t be surprised if the Indian pacers continue to be smashed for runs again. It’s now a ritual to look forward to the batsmen leading the charge.
- The difference here is, India are back to being overly dependent on chasing tall scores. It was evident against Sri lanka and Pakistan, where the two captains didn’t blink twice, before putting India into bat first and India lost.
- Yuvraj and Raina are back in the setup. Either the two will bat the opposition out with their aggression or will make an embarrassing exit against the short ball. Their recent form hasn’t been encouraging, and both of them are out of the ODI side.
- India’s fielding has been excellent in the Asia Cup. And considering these are shorter grounds, the cliché holds true for India: ‘Fielding will be the 12th player on the field’.
ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)