Sri Lanka defeated India by 6 wickets in the third match of the Asia Cup 2022 super four stage in Dubai, effectively eliminating India from the tournament.
After losing their first match of the Super Four stage by 5 wickets to Pakistan, India faced a do-or-die situation in their next match against Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won the toss and chose to bowl first in a must-win game for India. India scored 174-8 in 20 overs but was unable to defend a total due to the opposition’s very good 97-run opening stand. Sri Lanka successfully chased the total with four wickets down on the match’s second last ball.
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Sri Lanka’s victory over Afghanistan and India has confirmed its position as a tournament finalist but has put India in an if-and-but situation.
Here are the factors that pushed India almost out of the race to tournament finalists.
Inconsistent bowling combination
As a reason for the knockout from the tournament, India’s bowling combination comes first to mind. Although the bowling unit performed well against Pakistan in the first match in the group stage, but had underperformed against inexperienced Hong Kong and allowed them to score 152 while batting second.
India fielded two youngsters in the eleven — Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh — and the pacers never delivered consistently and frequently faltered in crucial moments. Even Bhuvenshwar Kumar couldn’t deliver on such an important day as the match against Pakistan. Chahal emerged as the only bowler in India’s bowling unit whose performance can be considered as impressive. However, the team’s overall bowling combination failed to defend India’s total against Pakistan (182) and Sri Lanka (174).
India had only three proper pacers in the 15-man squad, and the strategy of using Hardik Pandya as the fourth seamer had its limitations. In short, India had no room for error in the bowling department.
Following the ICC T20 World Cup in 2021, India hopes to adopt a more aggressive approach to T20s. However, the top three batters — Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul — delivered only against Pakistan in the Super 4 match, which India also lost. Even the middle order struggled to keep up, as they frequently ended up with near-par or sub-par totals. It made a significant difference in the Super 4 matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Injury to Ravindra Jadeja
With a knee injury, Jadeja was ruled out of the Asia Cup 2022, and his participation in the ICC T20 World Cup 2022 is now in doubt. However, in the context of the Asia Cup, Jadeja’s absence deprives India of a critical balance, a useful spinner, a capable lower-order batsman, and a brilliant fielder. All of these abilities were on display when India defeated Pakistan on the group stage.