Sunday or Rainday? India eyes Asia Cup success against Lanka with one eye on weather
A glance at India’s trophy cabinet will reveal the uncomfortable truth of it not winning any titles in the last five years, and Sunday will be a good opportunity
COLOMBO: Rohit Sharma’s Indian team will be firm favourite to end its five-year trophy draught in multi-nation events, when it squares off against a depleted Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup here on Sunday despite a few niggling questions still remaining unanswered.
While Axar Patel is an important component in the Indian set-up and his multiple injuries remain a concern, Sri Lanka will in fact miss its premier spinner Maheesh Theekshana way more due to his right hamstring injury.
A glance at India’s trophy cabinet will reveal the uncomfortable truth of it not winning any titles in the last five years, and Sunday will be a good opportunity to snap that unhappy streak.
India’s last title, across the three formats, came in 2018 when Rohit’s side beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup by three wickets in Dubai.
Since that victory, India’s inability to master crunch matches and occasions has been startling.
India reached semifinals of the 50-over World Cup in 2019 and the T20 World Cup in 2022, besides losing against New Zealand and Australia in the WTC finals in 2019 and 2023 respectively.
Any whichever one looks at it, this is a seriously underwhelming record for a team that prides on its cricketing tradition and wants to set some new trends under head coach Rahul Dravid and skipper Rohit.
However, India will believe that it has a brilliant chance to add a trophy to its glittering collection come Sunday.
India is certain to recall the five players who were rested for the Super Four match against Bangladesh on Friday, which it eventually lost by six runs.
The return of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya for the summit clash will certainly add meat to the batting unit, which struggled against the array of Bangladesh spinners.
Opener Shubman Gill made a top class hundred, but the rest of the batsmen could not rotate strike effectively in the middle overs, leaving the late order with a tall task.
The match also revealed another area India needed to address – the lack of consistency in bundling out a side after making early inroads.
India had reduced Bangladesh to 59 for 4, but the bowlers gave away too many runs in the death overs, allowing its neighbour to post a healthy 265.
But India will hope that the issue will be solved once pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav make their comeback for Sunday’s game. India will keep a watch on Axar’s right hand which received multiple beatings in the match against Bangladesh, suffering niggles on his little finger and forearm along with hamstring injury.
But these are India’s immediate concerns pertaining to the Asia Cup final. But it cannot be unmindful of the larger picture as well.
Apart from the practice games, India has four more ODIs – Asia Cup final and three matches against Australia – prior to the World Cup to tick the desired boxes.