Asia Cup 2022: Team India will start their Asia Cup campaign against Sri Lanka on Saturday, October 1 at Sylhet Outer Cricket Stadium in Sylhet. India has won the tournament the most number of times and was undefeated till the last edition. After the 2022 One Day World Cup, India won the T20 series against Sri Lanka, once again choked under the pressure in Commonwealth Final against Australia to lose the final by 9 runs, and lost the series to England as well.
After the 2020 World T20 Final at MCG, where India, playing the final for the first time, lost to Australia, their performance witnessed a dip. Team India failed to win a single bilateral series post-pandemic after the tournaments were resumed. They lost to South Africa in their own backyard, followed by a series of defeats in England, Australia, and New Zealand. Though there were some silver linings as they did a commendable job in test matches, broke Australia’s winning g streak in ODI, and batting looked much improved in the New Zealand series.
Indian management will once again look forward to the dynamic duo of Shafli Verma and Smriti Mandhana for a better opening start in the CWG 2022. After the 2020 World Cup, Mandhana scored 317 runs with a strike rate of 124 while Verma amassed 266 runs with a strike rate of 127. In the series against Srilanka, none of the openers got the desired stand they were looking for on a slower surface.
Among them, the highest was Smriti Mandhana’s 39 in the 2nd T-20, while Verma failed to reach to 20 runs mark. In the Commonwealth Games, while Smriti Madhana scored two half-centuries with a strike rate of 151, Verma 133 runs with a more than 140 strike rate. Against England Verma’s poor touch continued. She scored 14, 20 and 5. Though Smriti Mandhana’s unbeaten 79 stirred India to win the 2nd T-20, the opening partnership is clicking regularly.
In absence of Sabbhineni Meghana, who batted in No 3 in the Srilanka series, Jemimah Rodrigues was sent to her favourite position in Commonwealth Games. Though she has yet to find her grove in the ODI formats, over the years she has proved her prowess in the game’s shortest format. Her unbeaten 36 from 27 and 33 in the last series was crucial on the pitch that was not easy to bat on. Jemimah played in the Hundred, last year and has experience in playing now the defunct KSL. She was the only player to score a KSL hundred for Yorkshire.
India can vouch for the ability and experience she gained in the different franchise leagues for a medal hunt this time. With a whooping average of 73, she almost won the match in the final for India. While she missed the England series, due to injury, Hemalatha and Meghna were given chances to shine. However, none of the players batted to their true potential. When Jemimah returned to her trusted number three, India can ask Meghna to open the batting in place for Shafali Verma.
With the inclusion of Indian sensation KP Navgire, it would be interesting to see where India likes to bat her. While the Indian opening slot is filled and settled, it’s more likely she is going to bat down the order, to solidify the scars in the lower order. Another thought is that she can be sent to open as well. In her only match against England, she scored 7 from 13 balls.
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Along with her, skipper Harmanpreet Kaur will take care of the middle order. She has been on tremendous form after her exclusion from the ODI side, in the series against NZ, last February. In the last series, she scored 30+ runs in all three matches and India went on to win two odd them. The third-highest run scorer for India after the T20 World Cup will also play a crucial role will the ball. She will look forward to continuing the momentum that she gained from the England One day series, where she became the player of the series. Yastika Bhatia, who is a handy bat in the 50 overs game, needs to step up her game for the shorter format. Richa Ghosh was not selected for the Commonwealth Games, but once she made her comeback in the England series, she scored 16 from 12. Her 33 from 22 in the last match, helped India to get past the 100-run mark.
India’s obsession with the all-rounders faced a dent as Pooja Vastrakar has been out due to covid in Commonwealth Games. She played a major part in India’s 50 over camping, last March. India will not miss a seam bowling option, but also a batter who has emerged as a specialist pinch hitter in the previous couple of years. While India’s spin-bowling all-rounders like Sneh Rana and Deepti Sharma have their work shorted out. Deepti Sharma’s strike rate in T-20 has raised a few eyebrows in recent times.
But her ability to keep the batters in check at any time of the match makes her a deadly weapon in the Indian bowling arsenal. She can contain run in the powerplays as well as in the death overs. Besides her fielding abilities makes it quite difficult to exclude her. Along with Rajeshwari Gayakwad, she is the highest wicket-taker for India after the T-20 World Cup in 2020. That too came at a time when spinners, who have been India’s strength for years became their area of concern. Sneh Rana missed the Srilankan flight.
And that was not perceived well by her fans. Upon her comeback to the national side, though she did well in the ODI and Test, she is yet to shine with the bat in the T-20. In absence of Pooja Vastrakar, the lower middle order will be heavily dependent on her. Rana was the 2nd highest wicket-taker in the com game for India.
Indian seam bowling attack witnessed a revelation in from Australia series, last year. Young stars like Renuka Singh o Meghna Singh have troubled the stalwarts like Lanning and Healy. Even in the ODI World Cup, their performance earned praise, which continued in both formats of the Srinlaka series. Renuka Singh Thakur was again impressed with her speed and accuracy. She, in her first commonwealth games, picked up 4/10 against Australia and was recurring in chief against Barbados. It will be interesting to see how they perform in the upcoming tournament.
Squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Richa Ghosh (wk), Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, Jemimah Rodrigues, S Meghana, Sneh Rana, D Hemalatha, Meghna Singh, Renuka Thakur, Pooja Vastrakar, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Radha Yadav, Kiran Navgire
Reserves: Taniya Bhatia (wk), Simran Dil Bahadur