Former Sri Lanka captain and ICC Hall of Famer Mahela Jayewardene dissected India’s squad for the upcoming Asia Cup. India announced a 15-man squad for the six-team tournament this week. The pillars of India’s pace lineup Jaspreet Bumrah and Harshal Patel are out of the squad due to injuries.
Virat Kohli and Lokesh Rahul have been brought back into the team for this tournament in UAE. India will begin their journey with a match against arch-rivals Pakistan in Dubai on August 28. The Asia Cup can be a good preparation stage for the upcoming T20 World Cup to be held in Australia this year.
Former Indian captain Virat Kohli has played only 4 matches so far this year. He was not kept in the limited overs series against the West Indies due to lack of form. However, Jayawardene is hopeful that Kohli’s glimpses can be seen again if given enough opportunities in the Asia Cup.
Kohli is going through bad times, it is unfortunate for him. But he is a fantastic cricketer,’ Jayawardene told Sanjana Ganesan in the new episode of ICC Review.
I believe Kohli will come out of this predicament. He has done it before, he will do it again. For him only one word applies, class is permanent, form is temporary.
Opener Lokesh Rahul could not be in the team regularly this year due to injury and covid. Although he had a great season in this year’s IPL. He scored 616 runs for Lucknow Super Giants. However, Jayawardene thinks Rahul may face problems in big tournaments as he has been away from cricket recently.
“Rahul’s absence in the team may suffer for the team. He had a short stint in the national team after the IPL. He needed to play a lot of matches. The sooner he gets some game time and confidence, the sooner he will become an asset to the team.”
Jayawardene has suggested opening a left-handed batsman with Rohit in the team, ruling out Rahul’s quick return to the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup.
Jayawardene sees immense potential in Rishabh Pant. The 24-year-old punt batted well in the middle order and at the end. Earlier, punt opened 2 times for India. Jayawardene believes that India can do well in a right-handed and left-handed opening pair.
“If Punt has not been seen much in domestic cricket as an opener, he still has that quality. No matter where he bats, you cannot contain him. He can be a good option to open,’ said Jayawardene.