Asia Cup done and dusted, Sri Lanka done and dusted. India are the new Asian Champions. Rohit Sharma's brigade clinched a record-extending 8th Asia Cup title with a gigantic win over Sri Lanka in a lop-sided final in Colombo on Sunday. Mohammed Siraj's one over all but confirmed a result of a 100-over contest, which eventually lasted for only 21.3 overs in all. The continent is done, now it's time to have a crack at the World.
Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka; come what may, India found enough fuel in the tank to overpower their opponents. The only hiccup came against Bangladesh, where both made five changes but India rested most of the big guns. New games, new heroes emerged. From batters to bowlers, the Indian team looked good in the entire tournament on the pitches which could be similar to the World Cup ones. But how much India is ready for the biggest carnival in the World? Let's find out.
Top three make merry
The Indian top three looked solid in most of the tournament. Shubman Gill finished the tournament as the highest run-scorer with 302 runs to his name. In all the six innings that the young opener played, he got over 50 three times and once over 100 - a terrific 121 on challenging conditions against Bangladesh.
Rohit Sharma looked good too. The Indian captain scored three consecutive fifties from the Nepal game to the Super Four game against Sri Lanka. He partnered Gill in two hundred-plus opening run stands, which provided the Men in Blue with great starts in the India vs Pakistan Super Four game and the Sri Lanka Super Four clash.
Virat Kohli got to play three innings in the five matches he was part of. The former Indian captain played one big knock, a 122-run unbeaten outing against arch-rivals Pakistan. This shall give him more confidence ahead of upcoming assignments.
Middle-order crystal clear or dirty?
One glaring issue in the Indian team ahead of the Asia Cup was the middle order issue. KL Rahul was out from the first two games and India needed to play Ishan Kishan somehow. But that somehow was the talk of the town. Kishan had a rich CV of playing well at the top of the order but his middle-order numbers were poor. The debate was how to bring him in. Getting him on top and others coming down would have hampered the whole batting. But the knock (read sedate) against Pakistan under pressure and challenging situations put the debate to bed. The wicket-keeper scored 82 in a 138-run stand with Hardik Pandya that saved the day even though the match was washed out.
When KL Rahul returned, he made a thumping one. A 111-run unbeaten knock, which was part of a massive 233* run stand with Kohli stood out to be one of the biggest highlights of the tournament. He scored 39 in a low-scoring affair against Sri Lanka and these knocks should give him much more confidence.
But Shreyas Iyer's injury and whether he should be picked in the XI for the upcoming World Cup opens another debate. He was India's go-to-man at number 4 before the Asia Cup but now seems to fall behind the pecking order. Does this make the middle order clear or dirty? It goes the way one looks.
Ravindra Jadeja's average outing
It wasn't the best of Ravindra Jadeja that we saw in the continental tournament. The Southpaw is known for scoring crucial runs down the order while keeping things tight as well. Jadeja did keep things tight as he bowled at an economy of 4.34. But he did not score many runs, only 25 in three innings. The all-rounder scored runs at only 47.16 strike rate, which remains low by his standards.
Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj ticks bowling department
The likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj were right on the money. Siraj was the Sri Lankan batting destroyer in the final and got the player of the match for that iconic spell of 6/21. Kuldeep Yadav took nine wickets, a fifer against Pakistan and a four-wicket haul against Sri Lanka then. Kuldeep was awarded the Player of the series award for his two outstanding outings against some strong batting line-ups.
Jasprit Bumrah took only four wickets in his three innings but his swing and control in the powerplay became a threat for the opposition line-ups. Shardul Thakur also got five wickets but his performance in the Bangladesh game highlighted that he can be a potent third seamer with capabilities of batting.
India's Asia Cup was a success. Australia are on the door to dampen the party. They have a strong side and have many more all-rounders than what Indian team has. David Warner is back among runs, Mitchell Marsh is toying with the bowlers and Adam Zampa has wickets against his name. This makes them not an easy opponent but India look ready, first for Australia and then for the World Cup.