Colombo, September 16
The Rohit Sharma-led India are the firm favourites to end their five-year trophy drought in the multi-nation events as they take on a depleted Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup here tomorrow.
While multiple injuries to Axar Patel has cast a doubt over his participation in the match, Sri Lanka will sorely miss their premier spinner Maheesh Theekshana due to a hamstring injury.
Moreover, a win before getting into the World Cup mode will be the ideal boost for a side which hasn’t ticked all the boxes.
India’s last title, across the three formats, came in 2018 when they beat Bangladesh in the Asia Cup by three wickets in Dubai.
Since that victory, India’s inability to master crunch matches and occasions has been startling.
India reached the semifinals of the 50-over World Cup in 2019 and the T20 World Cup in 2022, besides losing to New Zealand and Australia in the WTC finals in 2019 and 2023, respectively.
The Men in Blue also failed to make their presence felt in last year’s Asia Cup, which was won by Sri Lanka.
India are certain to recall the five players who were rested for their Super Four match against Bangladesh on Friday, which they eventually lost by six runs.
The return of Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya will certainly strengthen their batting unit, which struggled against a spin-heavy Bangladesh.
Though opener Shubman Gill made a top class hundred, the rest of the batsmen could not rotate strike effectively in the middle overs, leaving the later-order with a tall task.
The match also revealed another area India need to address: the lack of consistency in bundling out a side after making early inroads.
On the other hand, the hosts are surely a threat to India, as they showed last week. They had India back in the pavilion for 213 and all the ten wickets were taken by spinners, including four by a part-time off-spinner.
The Lankans seemed to be running away with match at the halfway stage but India’s pacers struck at crucial junctures, taking out the top-order, to deflate them. — PTI
Washington to fill in for injured Axar?
Colombo: Washington Sundar has been called up as a cover for the injured Axar Patel for the Asia Cup final. Axar sustained several injuries during India’s six-run loss to Bangladesh in their last Super Four match on Friday.
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