MUMBAI: The upcoming edition of the T20 Asia Cup in UAE, which kicks off on August 27 and ends on September 11, will see India miss ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is out due to a back injury.
However, gone are the days when India’s pace bowling attack looked weak when their strike bowler was out injured. The emergence of one impressive fast bowler after another has seen India’s pace bowling stocks get richer than ever before.
With India playing non-stop cricket and the threat of players getting injured or being infected by Covid-19, captain Rohit Sharma stressed that he and coach Rahul Dravid had discussed about “creating a bench strength,” considering the amount of cricket the team plays, weighing in the injury factor.
“Bumrah, (Mohammed) Shami and all these guys will not be with the Indian team forever, so you have to try and prepare the other guys. I and Rahul bhai spoke about how we are going to create our bench strength because that’s going to be very crucial considering the amount of cricket we play, considering the injury factors and everything. We never want to be a team that relies on one or two individuals, we want to be a team where everyone can contribute and help the team win on their own. We want to be that kind of a team and that’s why we want to give the youngsters as many opportunities as possible and of course, you have got senior players around them. They can be of good help,” Rohit said here on Wednesday.
Stats put out by Cricinfo suggest that 48 players turned out for the India men’s team in 2021, while in 2022, the number is 39 so far. Avesh Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna and Shardul Thakur are among the many quicks who have impressed.
With the 2022 T20 World Cup in Australia now just two months away, Rohit said, “There are still about two-and-a-half months left for the T20 World Cup. Before that, we have the Asia Cup and two home series against Australia and South Africa. So, 80-90 per cent of your team is set, of course there could be three-four changes if at all depending on the conditions. As of now, we have been playing in India and will play in UAE, so the conditions in Australia will be different. We need to check what suits our team in Australia,” he said on the sidelines of a collection launch organised by Adidas.
With India set to play arch-rivals Pakistan twice in the league stage – and perhaps thrice if both sides make the final -in the forthcoming Asia Cup in UAE, there is much excitement around those clashes.
“The Asia Cup is happening after a long time, but we played Pakistan last year in Dubai, where obviously the result did not go our way. But the Asia Cup is different now. The team is playing differently and has prepared differently, so a lot of things have changed from then. But for us, we need to assess the conditions, keep in mind the fact that we will be playing in 40-plus degrees. We need to assess all those factors and prepare accordingly.”
Rohit asserted that his team was focused on the processes, rather than on which team it would play.
“My thought has always been that we will not focus on the opponent, but we will continue to play our game. We played against West Indies, England and in both cases, we did not think about who our opposition was, but we focused on things that we had to do as a team and what we had to achieve. Similarly, in the Asia Cup, our focus will be on what to achieve as a team and not think about who we are facing – be it Pakistan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka,” he stressed.