Asia Cup 2023: Indian cricket team’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats revealed ahead of Pakistan clash | Cricket News

The Indian cricket team, led by Rohit Sharma, will kick off their Asian Cup campaign on September 2 with a thrilling clash against arch-rivals Pakistan. Aside from having great emotional value in the game, the game also ushers in the final stages of the team's preparation for the upcoming ODI World Championship at home. India's Asian Cup squad is almost as expected as two players – KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer – joined the team immediately after making a comeback from injury. Sanju Samson has been named as a substitute, Rahul is still struggling according to BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar.

NDTV analyzes the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Indian cricket team ahead of their clash with Pakistan.

India's strengths

# A set of top three

India's top 3 have been determined and, as a group, are among the strongest in the world. India is expected to open with captain Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill. Rohit is one of the best openers in the world while Shubman Gill has been in amazing form in ODIs since 2022. Gill is the highest ranked batsman in the Asia Cup squad. He is ranked 5th in the latest ICC ODI batting ranking.

Rohit is the only opener with a 50+ ODI average after averaging over 3000 runs, while Gill has the highest ODI average (69.4) since 2022 (MIN: 500 runs).

Virat Kohli is 102 runs away from making 13,000 runs in the ODI. He will be the fifth ODI player to hit 13,000 or more runs. In addition, Kohli has the best average (57.3) among batters to surpass 10,000 runs in the ODI. He is one of two batters who average 50+ in the ODI after scoring more than 10,000 runs, alongside MS Dhoni, who has a 50.6 average. He has the second most Centurys (46) in the ODI after Sachin Tendulkar, who has 49.

# Tempo ability

Indian pace bowler Jasprit Bumrah is back in India after more than a year with ODIs. Bumrah last played an ODI for India on July 14, 2022. Bumrah has the third best bowling average (24.3) among active pace bowlers in the ODI (MIN: 100 wickets). Additionally, Indian pacers have the combined best bowling average in ODI since 2022. Even without Bumrah, Indian pacers have been great and the addition of Bumrah will be an added benefit to the bowling unit in ODI. Indian bowlers have done well in the ODI since 2022 and both pacers and spinners have been in great form in the ODI since 2022.


# No established middle order?

Fourth place has been worrying India since the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. India tried many players in 4th place but it didn't work out. Shreyas Iyer has scored 805 runs since the 2019 ICC World Championship while playing 4th place for India. However, he is returning to international cricket after suffering an injury.

Another option for 4th place is Surya Kumar Yadav, but he has 30 runs in 5 innings in 4th place. In addition, Suryakumar Yadav was not impressive in ODI. He has an ODI average of 24.3 and has hit 511 runs in 24 innings.

Another issue is KL Rahul's fitness. KL Rahul has been India's leading runs scorer since ICC CWC 2019, batting in the middle division. However, he is also coming back from injury and will miss the first few Asian Cup games through injury, meaning Ishan Kishan will keep the wickets for India.

Ishan Kishan has 106 runs in 6 innings in the middle class. But Ishan Kishan was used as a starter in the recent ODI series against WI when India had a chance to test him at mid-tier. Also, India have added another new face to their mid-tier squad in Tilak Varma. He made the Asian Cup squad after an impressive T20I series against WI and an impressive IPL season.
o But he has no experience of batting in the ODI in the middle division and it is shocking to be called up to the squad ahead of players like Sanju Samson, who was made a reserve player, ahead of the World Cup.


# Number 4 position

There are a number of ways for 4th place players to secure their place at the 2023 World Cup with an impressive Asian Cup. Shreyas Iyer, India's best number 4 since 2019 ICC CWC, will look to cement his place in the squad. However, if Iyer is not fit enough and fails in 4th place, players like Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma could get a chance on that place.

#wicket-keeping spot

If KL Rahul is fit enough, his place in India's starting XI as wicket-keeper-batter is almost guaranteed. KL Rahul is the only Indian batsman to have an average of 50+ as of ICC CWC 2019 (MIN: 500 runs) while batting in the middle batting class. However, if KL Rahul isn't fit enough and there could be fitness issues after injury, then the top spot is up for grabs for the likes of Ishan Kishan and Sanju Samson.

Ishan Kishan is expected to be in the starting XI as Rahul will miss the opening 2-3 games at the 2023 Asian Cup. If Ishan Kishan performs, KL Rahul could be out for a long time.


# Players return to squad after injury. The form of the players returning from injuries is unknown and it could take some time before they are fully fit to play again.

# India's lack of depth is also a cause for concern. Hardik Pandya has no top-flight replacement in the squad. When the fast bowling all-rounder is injured, there is no equivalent replacement who can deliver with the same intensity.

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