Asia Cup 2018: India Pre-tournament Predicted XI

Kohli's absence will change the dynamics of the side by a fair margin and we could witness some surprise changes in the XI.

Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Team India’s campaign in the Asia Cup 2018 will commence with the match against Hong Kong on 18 September 2018. They will then fight out the arch-rivals Pakistan on the next day in the initial stages of the tournament. The proceeding will then move to the ‘Super Four’ stage where the top two teams from each of the two groups will play out.

With the regular skipper Virat Kohli being rested, India will have their interim captain in the form of Rohit Sharma in this tournament. Shikhar Dhawan will be the deputy to Rohit and there are a lot of other faces who are making a comeback into the squad for this tournament. Kohli’s absence will change the dynamics of the side by a fair margin and we could witness some surprise changes in the XI.

Here is the likely pre-tournament XI for India:

Openers (Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan)

India will continue with their formidable opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. This duo has been one of the most successful ones and will be looking forward to putting their best foot forward in the Asia Cup. Rohit Sharma, in particular, will be hungry to get amongst the runs after being axed from the Test squad.

The Indian skipper scored a 100 in the first ODI against England in the recently concluded series. With the conditions in UAE suitable to his style of play, he will want to put up a good show. Similar is the case with his partner Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan got off to good starts in all the three ODIs against England but failed to put up a substantial score. He would be eager to make his mark in this tournament.

Middle Order (Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni(wk), Manish Pandey)

Ambati Rayudu, after being selected for the England tour was dropped from the side as he failed to clear the yo-yo test. But, he cleared this stern test and was quite impressive in the Quadrangular series. He scored 187 runs in 4 innings at an average of 62.3. Rayudu has played at the No 3 position for India earlier and was also quite successful. Since he likes to take his time initially, he could be a good fit for this position.

MS Dhoni has struggled to get going batting down the order. Not that he is out of form but he requires some time initially before he gets going. This was quite evident in the IPL. The wicket-keeper batsman scored 79 runs in two innings in England but his strike rate was just 63 batting down the order. Having struggled with his strike rates in England, it could prompt the team management to slot him in at the No 4 position and experiment in this tournament.

Just like Rayudu, Manish Pandey has come back into the team on the back of some terrific performances in the Quadrangular series. He scored 306 runs in the tournament in 4 innings and wasn’t even dismissed once. With KL Rahul failing in England in the first two ODIs and axed for the third, there could be a clear contention for Pandey to make it back into the middle order. His performance in the Asia Cup will decide the 29-year-old’s fortunes ahead of the World Cup 2019. He could be batting at No 5 in the lineup.

All-rounders (Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya)

Following up Manish Pandey will be Kedar Jadhav who will be assuming the role of finisher along with Hardik Pandya. He made a comeback from his injury in the Quadrangular series where he scored 30 runs in 3 innings. However, these numbers do not suggest much as he didn’t get enough time in the middle as he would have liked. The 31-year-old edges past Dinesh Karthik to find a place in the XI as he gives the captain the luxury of an extra bowling option.

Hardik Pandya will be the other all-rounder in the side. His inclusion in the XI adds a proper balance to the side as he is capable of contributing equally well both with the bat as well as the ball. Furthermore, India could use him as a floater in the line up depending on the situation of the game. Pandya, after having failed in the ODI series in England will be wanting to make a statement here.

Bowlers (Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah)

As usual, the wrist spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal will make it into the playing XI. These two crafty spinners can be highly effective in the middle overs. They often pick the wickets bowling in tandem which puts the oppositions on the backfoot. This duo will be delighted to bowl on the slow tracks in UAE which should provide them with a lot of assistance.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who is making a comeback from his injury will be drafted straight into the playing XI. Along with Jasprit Bumrah, he has been highly effective both with the new and the old ball. With a good amount of break, Bhuvi will want to come out with all guns blazing. He picked three wickets in the only Quadrangular series game that he played. Also, Jasprit Bumrah will be riding high on confidence after his recent performance in England.