After Team India’s successful Asia Cup campaign, it is now time for the team to introspect and identify the positives and grey areas.
The form of the Indian opening batsmen
Both the Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan were in tremendous form throughout the Asia Cup. Dhawan finished the Asia Cup as the top scorer with 342 runs in 5 innings at an average of 68. Dhawan scored two hundreds, against Hong Kong and Pakistan. The only time he failed was in the final.
Shikhar Dhawan came into the Asia Cup after a disappointing tour of England. The moment he set his eyes on the white ball, his fortunes changed dramatically. Suddenly he started timing the ball beautifully and Dhawan’s sheepish smile and thigh pats were back. Dhawan was comfortable both against pace and spin. He formed a formidable opening partnership for India with Rohit Sharma.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Dhawan gets a rating of 8.
Rohit Sharma had a break before coming into the Asia Cup. It seemed the break from International cricket had done him a world of good. He was a little rusty in his first match against Hong Kong. However, he got back into form with a fifty against Pakistan. He followed that up with innings of 83 not out, 111 not out and 48 in the final. He finished the tournament with an aggregate of 317 runs at an average of 105.
Apart from his batting, Rohit Sharma impressed one and all with his leadership qualities. His bowling changes were spot on and he was quite composed on the field. The only time he seemed to be rattled was in the final when the Bangladesh opening batsmen took on the Indian bowlers. At that stage, Rohit cleverly brought on Kedar Jadhav who gave him the breakthrough. The moment the opening partnership was broken, Rohit took control over the proceedings.
For his terrific batting and remarkable leadership, Rohit Sharma certainly deserves 9 out of 10.
The form of Indian opening bowlers
The Indian new ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were on a roll in the Asia Cup and they complemented each other really well.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was coming back into the team after an injury lay off. He was not at his best in the first match against Hong Kong. But in the group match against Pakistan, he dismissed both the Pakistan openers and finished with figures of 3 for 15. In the next match against Bangladesh, he took 3 wickets.
In the final, Bhuvi proved his importance as a batsman to the team. India needed 56 runs to win when Bhuvi joined Ravindra Jadeja and the pair put on 45 runs for the 6th wicket which proved to be the turning point in the end.
For his batting and bowling efforts, Bhuvi gets 7 out of 10.
Bhuvi’s new ball partner Jasprit Bumrah created a remarkable record in this Asia Cup. He did not concede a single boundary during Powerplay 3. Bumrah was quite accurate with his Yorkers and took 8 wickets in 4 matches in the tournament. He has improved his fielding too.
For his remarkable record, Bumrah deserves 8 out of 10
The form of the Indian spinners
The Indian spinners were right on the money and Rohit used them as attacking options.
Jadeja came back into the one day team after a gap of 15 months and made his presence felt in the very first match against Bangladesh when he took 4 wickets. Jadeja took 7 wickets from 4 matches. He showed his skills with the bat in the matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the final. As always, Jadeja was the live wire in the field and effected a brilliant run-out in the final to see the back of in-form batsman Mohammad Mithun.
For his skills as an all-rounder, Jadeja gets 7 out of 10.
Yuzvendra Chahal was not at his best though he claimed 6 wickets in the tournament. 3 of those 6 wickets came against Hong Kong in the first match and thereafter he was ineffective. At times he was expensive and struggled in the field.
Chahal gets 6 out of 10.
Chahal’s wrist-spin partner Kuldeep Yadav was more effective and the batsmen found him difficult to read. He was the highest wicket-taker for India in the tournament with 10 wickets. Kuldeep varied his pace and kept the batsmen guessing.
Kuldeep Yadav gets 8 out of 10.
The form of the all-rounder Kedar Jadhav
Kedar Jadhav got limited opportunities to bat in the tournament. In the 3 innings that he batted, Jadhav had scores of 28 not out, 19 and 23 not out. The only time he got out in the tournament was in the tied match against Afghanistan. In that match, he was unfortunately run-out at the non-striker's end. In the final, when it really mattered, Kedar Jadhav took his team home.
In bowling, Jadhav took 3 wickets in the group match against Pakistan. Again, in the final, Rohit Sharma turned to Kedar Jadhav when Bangladesh openers were going great guns. Jadhav obliged by breaking the opening partnership in his first over and then removing the dangerous Mushifiqur Rahim in his fourth over.
Fittingly, Kedar Jadhav scored the winning runs off the last ball of the final.
Kedar Jadhav gets 7 out of 10.
The form of Dhoni the wicket-keeper
Dhoni was quite impressive as a wicket-keeper in the Asia Cup. Dhoni was involved in 12 dismissals in the tournament - 6 catches and 6 stumpings. His stumping of Bangladesh centurion Litton Das in the final was out of the world. His contribution towards Review referrals was also massive.
For his wicket-keeping skills alone, Dhoni gets 7 out of 10.
The Indian fielding
The vast improvement in fielding during the course of the Asia Cup was a big positive for Team India. Even the fast bowlers Bhuvi and Bumrah put a lot of effort on the field. Shikhar Dhawan and Kedar Jadhav were outstanding in the outfield. Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, and Manish Pandey were sparkling in the infield.
The exceptional Indian fielding effort deserves a rating of 8 out of 10.
The Grey areas
The form of the Indian middle-order batsmen
When India started their Asia Cup campaign, the main headache for the team management was the combination of their middle-order batsmen. Now, after playing 5 matches in the Asia Cup, it is still back to square one. The management has not found any solution for the vacant No 4 position.
Ambati Rayudu played in all the 5 matches and scored 175 runs at an average of 58. But he failed in the all-important final.
For his decent efforts, Rayudu gets 6 out of 10.
Dinesh Karthik had a wonderful opportunity to impress the selectors. But he failed to set the Asai Cup on fire. Karthik managed to score 146 runs at an average of 48. At no stage did he look like dominating the bowling.
Dinesh Karthik gets 5 out of 10.
Dhoni, the middle-order batsman was completely out of sorts. He struggled both against pace and spin. His Test match-like strike rate did not help the team’s cause either.
Dhoni the batsman gets 3 out of 10.
No back up for Bhuvi and Bumrah
This Asia Cup has not produced any backup bowlers for Bhuvi and Bumrah. Khaleel Ahmed was impressive in the two matches that he has played. But Deepak Chahar and Siddarth Kaul were all over the place.
No place for KL Rahul in the Indian scheme of things
Rahul cannot bat below No 3 but that is where the vacancy lies. At the end of the Asia Cup, the team management are left wondering how to accommodate K.L. Rahul in the playing XI.
To sum up, there were a lot of positives for Team India in the recently concluded Asia Cup. At the same time, there were a lot of questions which were left unanswered. There were a lot of perennial problems for which no solutions were found. The area of strength for the team has become much stronger and the weakness has become much more pronounced.