Asia Cup: How Atrocious Team Selection Let India Down Against Lanka

The New Indian looks at the five factors that led to India’s defeat against Sri Lanka in Asia Cup Super Four tie.

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By: Navneet Mundhra | BENGALURU
Updated: 07 September, 2022 8:42 am IST

Sri Lanka chased down 174 in 19.5 overs on Tuesday to edge India by 5 wickets in a thriller. With this win, Sri Lanka have qualified for the final of the Asia Cup 2022, while India are almost out of the tournament. The task to make it to the final seems almost improbable as India will not just have to win their next match against Afghanistan but also hope that Sri Lanka and Afghanistan would get better off Pakistan.

The New Indian looks at the five factors that led to India’s defeat against Sri Lanka:

1) Atrocious team selection: India surprisingly did not pick the leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi in the playing XI even after he emerged as the team’s best bowler in the last match against Pakistan. Bishnoi conceded only 26 runs in his four overs and bowled probingly. The decision to leave him out was baffling.

The bigger blunder was including Deepak Hooda over Dinesh Karthik for the second match in a row. Karthik has been in creditable form in the T20Is having finished a clutch of matches with his blistering cameos.

The rationale for picking Hooda over Karthik was that Hooda is an all-rounder. But he did not bowl a single over in both the matches even when some of the main bowlers were being carted around. On top of that, he failed badly with the bat in both matches and could not score quick runs in death overs. This particular blunder perhaps cost India the match and the tournament.

2) The problem of the top 3 in the batting line-up: Over the last few weeks, The New Indian has fervently argued that India cannot afford to have Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli as the top 3 in the T20Is. This is not to cast aspersions on their pedigree, but that’s the hard fact. KL Rahul and Virat Kohli aren’t in blazing form and more importantly, both aren’t power-hitters. India need at least one power-hitter in the top 3 who can take the attack to the bowlers from the word go.

Rahul has not only failed to make runs in this tournament, but his strike rate is embarrassingly tepid. Even on Tuesday, both Kohli and Rahul flattered to deceive.

3) Toothless lower middle-order: India scored only 45 runs in the last 5 overs against Sri Lanka and missed out on a big total. A similar thing has happened against Pakistan as well. The truth is that while India’s middle-order is robust, its lower middle-order and tail are toothless. The problem was exacerbated by the inexplicable absence of Karthik and the unavailability of Ravindra Jadeja, who was injured.

Deepak Hooda is now fit and must be included in the T20I team. Not only is he a resourceful T20I bowler, but he can also bludgeon big hits. His inclusion will lend more balance to the team.

4) Bhuvneshwar’s patchy form: Bhuvneshwar has been one of the most reliable seamers for India in T20Is for a long time. But his ability to bowl piercingly during death overs has taken a beating. In the match against Pakistan, he was pillaged for 19 runs in the 19th over, and on Tuesday, Sri Lankan batters blasted 14 runs in the 19th over bowled by him. In both these matches, Arshdeep Singh was left to defend only 7 runs in the last over, which was too few.

5) Scintillating show by Sri Lanka’s openers: Chasing 174 on this track wasn’t a stroll in the park, but Sri Lankan openers – Pathum Nissanka and Kusal Mendis – were completely unfazed by the pressure of the chase. Both the batters didn’t pull their punches and batted with arresting audacity. In the Powerplay – the first six overs – Sri Lanka scored 57-0 and were cantering along.

Both of them rode on luck as many times, the top edges either fell into no man’s land or raced to the boundary. But it was a case of fortune favouring the brave. They slashed, cut and swept with ferocity and conjured up a 97-run stand for the first wicket. Though the innings wobbled a bit after their departure, the mammoth opening partnership ensured that Sri Lanka finally sealed the thriller.

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