Asia Cup 2022: Predicting India's Predicted XI in Opening Match Against Pakistan

Asia Cup 2022: Who are the predicted XI for the much-awaited India vs Pakistan clash?

5 min read
Asia Cup 2022: Predicting India's Predicted XI in Opening Match Against Pakistan
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India will start the Asia Cup 2022 campaign with their match against Pakistan on Sunday, 28 August, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. It has been 10 months since the men in blue were handed a ten-wicket defeat by the same team, at the same venue.

Understandably, besides getting off to a winning start, redemption will also be high on Rohit Sharma's list of agendas. India will miss a couple of key players in this tournament – Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel – because of injuries.

Despite the absentees, the men in blue still boast of a squad that is perfectly capable of winning the nation its eighth Asia Cup title, but selecting the correct combination of players will be of paramount importance.

Let us analyse India's predicted XI for the Pakistan clash:


Same Old Top Three, but With Focus on Revisionism

India are almost certain to field a top three that will feature skipper Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli. Given their career statistics, calling them one of the more formidable batting trios currently active will not be an exaggeration.

Yet, the 2021 Men's T20 World Cup exposed the fallacies behind the façade. Against Pakistan and New Zealand, the trio combined to score 96 runs from as many deliveries, at a strike rate of 100 and an average of 16.

Hence, the pertinent question in this scenario is – what has changed between then and now?

We can analyse this on a case-to-case basis. For Rohit Sharma, albeit not by a significantly discernible degree, his batting approach in T20 cricket has changed. After being criticised for what many considered an anachronistic batting mindset in the T20 World Cup, a few Indian batters have tried to inculcate a more aggressive approach, and Sharma has been successful at that.

In the T20I series against New Zealand that took place just after the T20 World Cup, the Indian skipper maintained a strike rate north of 150 in all three matches. Besides that, we also saw him in a destructive mood in the series against West Indies.

For the other two members of the trio, however, statistics will not be able to prove their progress – simply because they have not played many matches. Rahul has played only two matches since the T20 World Cup, while Kohli has played only four matches. In fact, the Asia Cup will be Rahul's first T20I outing in 2022.

Rohit Sharma has changed his T20 batting approach.

(Photo: The Quint/IANS)


The Hot-and-Cold Middle Order

Purely in terms of form, Suryakumar Yadav will be India's biggest asset in the batting department. In his last 18 T20I innings, the 31-year-old has scored 533 runs with a strike rate that every other Indian batter will wish to emulate – 177.07.

Barring the two-match series against Ireland, Yadav has played at least one knock of 50+ runs in every T20I series since the T20 World Cup. If the ghosts of the past return to haunt the Indian team and switching gears prove to be an issue again, the onus will be on Yadav to don the aggressor's hat and accumulate runs at a brisk pace.


Rishabh Pant's case, on the contrary, is incomprehensible for many. For a player blessed with the ability to play the most unorthodox of shots, T20 cricket should be the ideal format. Yet, his numbers prove why India have not been able to extract the best out of their wicket-keeper.

In the last 12 months, Pant has scored 371 runs at an average of 28.53 and a strike rate of 131.09. Interim head coach VVS Laxman will have another wicketkeeping option available in Dinesh Karthik, but given his subpar display against West Indies, Pant is likely to get the nod.


The Jacks of All Trades

India are likely to field two spin-bowling all-rounders – Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin – and one pace-bowling all-rounder, namely Hardik Pandya.

Hardik Pandya's role in the team will be immensely crucial. He is likely to be the third seam option, while also being the number six in the batting order. In the last 12 months, he has scored 350 T20I runs at an average of 31.81, and has also scalped 8 wickets. Economy rate is generally considered Hardik's Achilles' heel, but he conceded only 60 runs in the 10 overs that he bowled in the series against West Indies.

As for the other category, both Jadeja and Ashwin have impressive numbers at this venue, which could prove to be a psychological boost. Jadeja's Indian Premier League (IPL) batting average on this ground is in excess of 50, while he also has done a decent job for the Indian team at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Ashwin has played a couple of T20I matches here, wherein he has scalped four wickets at an economy rate of only 6.12 runs per over. He has also played 14 IPL matches here, picking up 11 wickets at an economy rate of 6.59 runs per over.

Ravichandran Ashwin has mostly been effective at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

(Photo: The Quint/IANS)


The Frontline Bowlers

With Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel injured and Mohammed Shami not included in the squad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be India's only experienced pacer for this tournament. Judging by his recent performances, the fans will have high expectations from the seamer. Over the last 12 months, Kumar has picked up 23 wickets in 21 T20I matches, ensuring his average remains under 20.

The contest is between Arshdeep Singh and Avesh Khan for the role of the second paper, and the former is likely to get the preference a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the team management would ideally prefer having a left-arm pacer against Pakistan's two right-handed openers, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Barring that, Arshdeep also has impressive numbers at this ground. In 7 IPL matches, he has picked up 17 wickets at an average of only 12.9.

Arshdeep Singh could prove to be an X-factor for India.

(Photo: The Quint/IANS)

Yuzvendra Chahal, who was not even a part of the squad in the 2021 T20 World Cup, is expected to lead India's spin contingent. Since making a comeback to the team, the leg-spinner has scalped 16 wickets in 13 matches at an average of only 18.62 and an economy rate of 7.06 runs per over, thereby proving his mettle all over again.


India's Predicted XI Against Pakistan:

Rohit Sharma (captain), KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Yuzvendra Chahal.

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