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Asia Cup 2018: Aakash Chopra suggests qualitative changes in the Indian squad

Starting from the middle-order woes to the possible bowling options for the team, Chopra spoke extensively on a number of topics.

Aakash Chopra
Aakash Chopra. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The Asia Cup is almost upon us. The Indian team is currently playing in England and trails by a margin of 2-1 against the hosts, with a nail-biting fourth Test already in progress. Dissecting the Indian team management’s difficult task of forming a team combination for the Asia Cup, ex-India cricketer Aakash Chopra has some interesting thoughts to share.

Starting from the middle-order woes to the possible bowling options for the team, Chopra spoke extensively on a number of topics. He also stressed on the importance of the team management to take a view at the larger scheme of things and build a strong player pool for the 2019 World Cup rather than the upcoming tournaments individually.

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Aakash Chopra talks about India’s middle-order woes

Speaking to Rashesh Mandani, correspondent for Sports Tak, cricket expert Aakash Chopra had some interesting insights to offers in context of the upcoming Asia Cup. The first question Chopra addressed as the middle-order conundrum that has the best of Indian team selectors baffled. Expressing his doubts over Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina’s ability to stabilize the middle-order, Chopra said, “Several players have been used. While Dinesh Karthik may have been thought as a possible permanent option, the England tour has not been favourable towards the decision. Suresh Raina has not been able to provide much confidence to the team either.”

Citing Kedhar Jadhav and Ambati Rayudu as the plausible alternatives, Chopra said, “They were the original choice, there’s no reason to shift from them. Jadhav can bat as well as bowl. Ambati Rayudu has been riding high on his Indian Premier League (IPL) form. If he’s fit, he should definitely be selected.”

Bringing in the all-rounder issues onto the fore and dismissing the five-bowler theory, the ex-India player felt the importance for the team to consider the possibility of roping in another all-rounder in the form of Jadhav or Krunal Pandya, keeping in the mind the prospect of the 2019 World Cup.

Manish Pandey may receive the axe, feels Chopra

Talking about the batting combination, Chopra felt that Manish Pandey and Suresh Raina may be facing an impending doom, owing to the presence of a strong top order in the form of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, followed by Jadhav and Rayudu. “The middle-order batsmen, in particular, have been shown the door after playing two or three matches. Whatever chances Pandey received in Ireland or England, he was unable to create much of an impression. The only thing that might work in his favour is the quadrangular series he played involving the India A and India B sides, where he regularly scored runs without being dismissed even once. This might be an indicator of his form coming back to him gradually.” He even commented that Shreyas Iyer wasn’t a safe bet as he’s got too few chances.

When asked if he’d pick Rishabh Pant over Dinesh Karthik, Chopra preferred Karthik owing to his consistency in the recent past which includes the Nidahas Trophy and the IPL. “Whoever the team management chooses now, will be the one representing India in the 2019 World Cup. From that perspective, Karthik, in my opinion, will be more deserving to get into the Playing XI. Pant will have to wait his while.”

On bowling options

Chopra spoke extensively on the bowling department and considered Mohammad Siraj as well as Siddharth Kaul as viable options for the team. “Deepak Chahar can be considered for his swing bowling abilities while Kaul still looks to be a work in progress. Umesh Yadav had been good in the IPL, but looked a little weak in international cricket thereafter. Considering Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are fit to go, it’ll be interesting to see how Shardul Thakur fits into the scheme of things.”

Chopra and Mandani concluded by opining that from hereon the reverse countdown for the 2019 World Cup has already started and India will need to get their combination right in the next few tournaments to ensure a winning run.

Here’s the video

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