Asia Cup 2023: Kohli, Krishna and Umrah to boost India’s batting and bowling strength


Jasprit Bumrah (ANI)

India will open their Asia Cup campaign with an iconic clash against Pakistan on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Our Bureau
Kandy/New Delhi  

The Asia Cup to be held in Pakistan and Sri Lanka will start from August 30 with the match between arch-rivals India and Pakistan on September 2 at the Pallikal International Cricket Stadium in Kandy set to serve as the Men in Blue’s campaign opener.

The squad also marks the return of Jasprit Umrah to ODI cricket after a gap of more than one year. After proving his fitness in the ongoing T20I series against Ireland, Umrah is set to test himself in the 50-over format heading into the World Cup. India’s pace attack will be boosted by the return of Mohammed Siraj, who was not in the team for some time due to a sore ankle.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced a strong 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 which will begin on August 30 with Jasprit Umrah, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul returning to the squad and Tilak Verma also getting a place in the team. The 2023 Asia Cup will be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the tournament running from August 30 to September 17.

Asia Cup will serve as an important benchmark for India’s preparations for the World Cup starting in October and will also help selectors make choices for the marquee event.

Meanwhile, star Indian batter Virat Kohli revealed that he has passed his Yo-Yo Test ahead of the Asia Cup 2023, which will start on August 30. Virat took to Instagram and shared his happiness at having passed the test “between the dreaded cones”.

The Yo-Yo Test was introduced during Virat Kohli’s reign as captain and is considered as one of the biggest positives of his captaincy. It was developed by Denmark football physiologist Jens Bangsbo and is a maximal aerobic endurance fitness test, which involves running between markers placed 20 metres apart, at increasing speeds, until exhaustion.

Audio cues dictate the required running speed. A participant is given 10 seconds break after he runs 40 metres and he runs the same distance once again. At regular intervals, the required speed of running increases. The test goes on till the participant is not able to keep up with the required pace of running.

Virat will be seen in action during the Asia Cup 2023.

Virat has been in good form this year. In 10 ODIs this year, he has scored 427 runs at an average of 53.37, with two tons and a fifty and a best of 166 against Sri Lanka.

In 17 matches across formats this year in 19 innings, he has scored 984 runs at an average of 54.66 with four centuries and two fifties. His best score is 186 against Australia in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

He also had a good IPL 2023. Though his team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) could not reach the playoffs, he scored 639 runs in 14 innings at an average of 53.25, with a strike rate of 139.25 and scored two centuries and six fifties in his 14 innings. He ended the tournament as the fourth-highest run-getter.

Tilak Varma made it to India’s Asia Cup squad on the back of his strong performance against West Indies during the tour that ended this month.

Bowling all-rounders Kuldeep Yadav and Azar Patel are also in the squad to give the captain more diversity in choices. Apart from Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja is also in the team as an all-rounder.

Pakistan, India and Nepal are in Group A while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are in Group B. The tournament will follow a hybrid model with Pakistan hosting four matches across two venues and Sri Lanka hosting the remaining games.

The six group-stage matches will be followed by the Super Fours, beginning September 6.

The final will be played by the top two teams at the end of the Super Fours on September 17 in Colombo. 

Squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shuman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Azar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Umrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasad Krishna.

Krishna looks forward to partner with Umrah

Pacer Prasad Krishna, who is back in the Indian team after an injury lay-off, praised and thanked star fast bowler Jasprit Umrah for his support during the National Cricket Academy (NCA) days.

The highlight of India’s current T20I series against Ireland has been the fast bowlers Jasprit Umrah and Prasad Krishna’s excellent comeback. India clinched a commanding T20I series win in the three-game series thanks to performances from Umrah and Krishna that delighted spectators.

Prasad Krishna bounced out batters and hurried them for pace, he took four wickets. His next appearance will be at the upcoming Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.

The young pacer emphasized the value of Jasprit Umrah’s assistance while he was a member of the NCA and how it helped him develop as a bowler.

“Personally, I’ve always looked up to him because of his abilities and the way he keeps it simple. His knack of executing under pressure is something I’ve admired for a long time. Fortunately, I had ample time to be alongside him during our recovery period at the NCA,” Prasad Krishna said in a conversation with Jio Cinema.

Virat Kohli (ANI)

The 27-year-old claims that prior to the exercise program’s cricket component, they focused more on their general well-being, which aided in their steady recovery.

“It was often us working together, sticking to a planned approach. This gave us the opportunity to learn more about each other – how we prepare, and how we respond to in-game situations. It’s been a valuable experience. He’s also been supportive, whether it’s discussing cricket, mental aspects, or rehabilitation concerns. Our partnership is going great, and we’re eager to continue it, he added.

Pakistan close to No.1 ODI team ranking

Pakistan clinched an exciting one-wicket victory over Afghanistan in Hambantota on Thursday and in the process clinched an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-game series.

That improved Pakistan’s ODI team rating just short of first-placed Australia and the Asian side could claim the premier position as the No.1 ranked one-day side as early as Saturday with a victory over Afghanistan in the third and final match of their series.

Meanwhile, India is at third position followed by New Zealand and England in the latest ICC ODI ranking.

In 10 ODI matches this year Pakistan have lost just three – all against New Zealand – and their form with both bat and ball during the ongoing Afghanistan series has them on the cusp of claiming the top ranking from Australia, as per ICC.

Pakistan also boasts some of the highest ranked ODI players, with Babar Azam leading the way in the ODI Batter rankings and teammates Imam-ul-Haq (third) and Fakhar Zaman (fifth) not far behind.

“No spinner better than Chahal”: Harbhajan

Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh shared his views on seasoned bowler Yuzvendra Chahal’s exclusion from India’s 17-member Asia Cup squad.

The veteran spinner Chahal failed to find a spot in the team as India went ahead with three spinners in their squad of 17, with Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and Kuldeep Yadav as the preferred choices. Yuzvendra Chahal, who last featured in an ODI in January this year and was also a part of the squad that toured the West Indies, was left out of the side.

Harbhajan believes that a few bad games don’t make the Chahal a bad bowler.

“The one thing I feel is lacking in the team is the absence of Yuzvendra Chahal. A leg-spinner who can get the ball to turn away. If you talk about genuine spinner, I don’t think there’s any spinner in India better than Chahal in white-ball formats. Yes, his last few games weren’t good, but that doesn’t make him a bad bowler,” Harbhajan said on his YouTube channel.

Chahal’s snub made heads turn, Harbhajan slammed the omission and backed the veteran spinner for the upcoming home ODI World Cup.

“I think his presence in the team was necessary. I hope the doors aren’t closed to him. It’s important to consider him for the World Cup because the tournament is in India. Chahal is a proven match-winner. I can understand his form isn’t good, so you may have rested him. But I think if he was with the team, his confidence would’ve stayed intact. Any player who comes back after being dropped, the pressure to perform is always there,” he added.

In the year so far, Chahal has taken nine wickets in nine T20I matches that he has played, while Kuldeep Yadav who has been selected ahead of him has better stats. He has taken seven wickets in three matches with the best figures of 4/6 and eight wickets in seven T20Is, with the best figures of 3/28.

During the squad announcement, skipper Rohit Sharma said that the team had a discussion about an off or leg spinner.

“But we also want someone who can bat at number eight and nine. Axar has had a great run with the bat in all formats and the IPL. He got some chances in the West Indies too, but he bats too low. Him being there gives us batting depth, a left-hand option and someone who we can use up the order to play spin. We also thought of Ashwin (Ravichandran Ashwin) and Washi (Washington Sundar) as well. The only way we could include them was by having a seamer miss out. We cannot do this because seamers are going to be playing a massive role in the next two months,” said the India captain.

“But the door is open for all. If we need Chahal in World Cup, we will try to squeeze him in. The same goes for Ashwin and Washington,” Rohit added.

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