Rohit Sharma’s Indian team enters the Asia Cup final as favorites to put an end to their five-year trophy drought in multi-nation events. India are set to face a weakened Sri Lanka side in Sunday’s final, although some lingering concerns remain. One significant concern for India is the ouster of Axar Patel, an integral part of the team who was ruled out of the final on Saturday with a left quadriceps strain. On the other hand, Sri Lanka will sorely miss their key spinner Maheesh Theekshana due to his right hamstring injury.
A closer look at India’s recent history reveals their inability to secure titles in the past five years, making Sunday’s final a valuable opportunity to break that streak. Winning before heading into World Cup preparations would provide a much-needed boost to a team that, while not yet perfect, has displayed greater solidity than anticipated a few months ago.
India’s most recent title in multi-nation events was in 2018 when Rohit’s side defeated Bangladesh in the Asia Cup final in Dubai by three wickets. Nonetheless, India should remain confident in their prospects of securing another trophy when they face Sri Lanka on Sunday; for one, the side is set to bring back the five players who were rested during the Super Four match against Bangladesh, which ultimately ended in a six-run defeat. The return of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya for the final will significantly bolster their batting lineup, which struggled to handle Bangladesh’s spin bowlers.
While opener Shubman Gill delivered an outstanding century, the middle-order batsmen struggled to rotate the strike effectively, placing pressure on the lower order. The match also exposed India’s inconsistency in finishing off opposition teams after early breakthroughs. Despite reducing Bangladesh to 59 for 4, the bowlers conceded too many runs in the death overs, allowing their neighbours to post a competitive total of 265.
While KL Rahul will hope for an improved performance after being dismissed early in the game against Bangladesh, the management will fret over picking one between Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer; it is expected that Ishan will retain his role, thanks to his impressive form over the past few months. With Hardik returning, the batting order looks strong but India will hope for Ravindra Jadeja to bring back his mojo with the bat, particularly in the absence of Axar.
India is optimistic that the return of pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav will address this issue in the upcoming game. The side has enlisted off-spinner Washington Sundar as a backup for Axar in the final, but it is unlikely that he will play in the clash after not being part of the squad throughout the tournament.
India predicted XI vs Sri Lanka for Asia Cup final
Openers: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill
Middle-order batters: Virat Kohli, KL Rahul (wk), Ishan Kishan
All-rounders: Hardik Pandya (v/c), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur
Bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj