UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: One poor performance is all it takes to prevent a team from losing the Asia Cup 2022. After losing to Pakistan in the Super 4 round, India is currently in a perilous situation.
The team led by Rohit Sharma cannot afford to lose to Sri Lanka on Tuesday in Dubai. For the reigning champions to have a chance of making the final, they must hope that other outcomes go their way. Sri Lanka will rise to the top of the odds to play in the summit match.
Sri Lanka’s tournament start wasn’t good. After being defeated in the first game by Afghanistan with 59 balls remaining, where they managed only 105 runs.
However, since then, Sri Lanka has pulled off two spirit-boosting victories, chasing down 184 in a crucial group match against Bangladesh and 176 in their opening Super 4 game against Afghanistan.
The hitters for Sri Lanka aren’t exactly globe T20 superstars, but a large target seems to free them up. Rahmanullah Gurbaz’s 45-ball 84 against Afghanistan was overcome by Pathum Nissanka, Kusal Mendis, Danushka Gunathilaka, and Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s fast 30s. They might employ the same strategy when pursuing India as well.
Even though India lost to Pakistan on the final ball of the match, there were a few significant positives for them. In his third inning, KL Rahul scored a 20-ball 28 after beginning the game with a first-ball duck and ending it with a 39-ball 36. Perhaps the shot of the game was his straight whip for six off Naseem Shah.
Virat Kohli appeared to perform at or near his peak when he made a “conscious effort” to score more frequently. The hitters at the other end scored 45 runs off 45 while Kohli was at the crease, scoring 60 runs off 44 balls.
But in terms of their campaign, India must defeat Sri Lanka to maintain control over their own destiny at the Asia Cup. They will feel confident after they easily defeated them in a three-match T20I series at home earlier this year.
Players to watch out
Sri Lanka will be hoping that its spinners Wanindu Hasaranga and Maheesh Theekshana can do the same as Pakistan’s Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan did on Sunday when they shut down India. Hasaranga and Theekshana had strong UAE performances and IPL bowling experience against Indian hitters.
On the other hand, India will also be aware of its strategies.
Yuzvendra Chahal had stats of 1 for 43 from his four overs in the Super 4 match against Pakistan, a turnaround from his wicketless performance in India’s opening two games of the Asia Cup. The other three spinners in the game had combined statistics of 4 for 82 from 12 overs on the same surface where that feat took place (economy 6.83). India needed Chahal to step up his game in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal Patel, and Ravindra Jadeja.
Expect Sri Lanka to use the same lineup to complete a hat-trick of victories.
Sri Lanka (probable): 1 Pathum Nissanka, 2 Kusal Mendis (wk), 3 Charith Asalanka, 4 Danushka Gunathilaka, 5 Bhanuka Rajapaksa, 6 Dasun Shanaka (capt), 7 Wanindu Hasaranga, 8 Chamika Karunaratne, 9 Maheesh Theekshana, 10 Asitha Fernando, 11 Dilshan Madushanka.
India might return to their original lineup of three specialist fast bowlers, one specialist spinner, and two all-rounders if Avesh Khan became available. That would imply that despite playing well against Pakistan, Ravi Bishnoi will make way for Axar Patel.
India (probable): 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 KL Rahul, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Suryakumar Yadav, 5 Dinesh Karthik/Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 9 Avesh Khan, 10 Arshdeep Singh, 11 Yuzvendra Chahal