India announced their first on-paper full-strength T20I team for the first time since IPL this year with the likes of Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul returning to the set-up for Asia Cup 2022 slated to begin on August 27 in UAE. If jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel were not injured then one could perhaps have argued in favour of India’s Asia Cup squad being the exact one for T20 World Cup later in Australia too. But as things stand, after a lot of experiments, it appears that India have finally zeroed in on their core group of players that will travel to Australia to win the world title for the first time since the inaugural edition in 2007. Legendary Sri Lanka cricketer Mahela Jayawardena also believes India have selected a strong team that can defend the Asia Cup title.
The former Sri Lanka captain, however, highlighted a possible area of ‘concern’ for the Rohit Sharma-led side.
“That (Rahul’s lack of cricket) would be a concern for India,” Jayawardena told ICC ahead of the six-nation tournament.
“He has been out for a little while since the IPL, so having game time is quite crucial especially out there in the middle. The sooner he can get some game time and get that confidence back, is always going to help him, as well as the national team,” he added.
Rahul hasn’t played since this year’s IPL. With 616 runs, he was the top-scorer for Lucknow Super Giants and the second highest run-getter behind Rajasthan Royals’ Jos Buttler in IPL 2022.
But the right-handed opening batter hasn’t played a single competitive game since the IPL playoffs. He was supposed to lead in the five-match home series against South Africa but was ruled out of the entire series on the eve of the series opener in New Delhi with a groin injury. He had to undergo an operation for the same which ruled him out of India’s Ireland and England tours.
When he finally regained and was selected for the West Indies T20Is, he was sidelined due to Covid-19. But considering the class of the right-hander it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he straightaway hits the straps in India’s opening match against Pakistan in Dubai on August 28.
Jayawardena also had his about Virat Kohli’s form. “It is unfortunate what Virat is going through right now at the moment, but he is a quality player. “I believe Virat has the tools to come out of it (the form slump). He has done that in the past as well and I’m sure he’ll come through this. Class is permanent and form is temporary,” Jayawardena.
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