Exclusive: You can experiment in a bilateral series, not in Asia Cup, says Vengsarkar

India have continued to tinker with their line-up during the ongoing tournament

India's captain Rohit Sharma (centre) talks to his teammates. — AP
India's captain Rohit Sharma (centre) talks to his teammates. — AP

Rituraj Borkakoty

Published: Thu 8 Sep 2022, 12:13 AM

In an attempt to discover their best playing XI for next month’s T20 World Cup, the Indian think-tank has tried out different players even in the ongoing DP World Asia Cup in the UAE.

Dinesh Karthik lost his place in the team after playing just one ball in the first game against Pakistan. Rishabh Pant, who was overlooked for the opening game, was brought into the team for the next game. But the Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman’s struggle in the shortest format of the game continues and his failure to provide the impetus in the middle overs played its part in India’s failure to qualify for the final.

Then young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi was dropped despite bowling well (4-0-26-1) against Pakistan in the Super Four clash on Sunday.

Now it remains to be seen if Bishnoi’s replacement, Ravichandran Ashwin, keeps his place for the team’s last and inconsequential Super Four clash against Afghanistan.

Dilip Vengsarkar, the former chairman of the national selection committee, asserts that multi-team events like the Asia Cup is not a ground for experimentations.

Dilip Vengsarkar, the former chairman of the national selection committee. — AFP
Dilip Vengsarkar, the former chairman of the national selection committee. — AFP

In an exclusive interview with the Khaleej Times, the legendary former Indian batsman said Virat Kohli scoring runs and young Arshdeep Singh’s skills and composure as a death overs bowlers are the two positives for the team ahead of the World Cup.

Q. The Asia Cup is a big disappointment for India despite their fine start when they beat Pakistan in the first game. What do you think has gone wrong?

In this format, it’s very difficult to pinpoint what has gone wrong because it’s too short a format. If you have two-three bad overs or two-three good overs, it can change the complexion of the game. So it’s very difficult to say what has gone wrong. You always hope that everybody clicks at the same time, but it’s not possible. You can only hope that the batsmen put up a good total for the bowlers, so they can bowl well and defend. Basically, the powerplay over are very important. You have to be more assertive in the power-play overs. Of course, India had some injury issues (Jasprit Bumrah, Harshal Patel, Ravindra Jadeja) as well.

Q. Do you think it’s right to experiment in a big event like the Asia Cup?

The team is going ahead with their experiments. They picked Dinesh Karthik, but they haven’t played him, and then they played Ravichandran Ashwin for the first time yesterday (Tuesday) against Sri Lanka. Obviously, the team management wants to give all the players a chance as they are trying to find their best XI for next month’s World Cup. But then this event is also very important. The Asia Cup is a very big tournament. Winning matches in a tournament like this is very important for the morale of the team. Also, I think it’s important to have the winning combination. As I said, the Asia Cup is a very big event. You can experiment maybe in a bilateral series, but the Asia Cups and the World Cup, these are major tournaments. In these tournaments, you need to win, that’s very important.

Q. So what are the positives that India can take from this tournament?

The Indian team have tremendous potential. They have a lot of match-winners. I am happy to see Suryakumar Yadav playing some big innings. Virat Kohli is getting into his form. Rohit Sharma played a fantastic knock in the last match. Kohli playing well in three of the four innings is definitely a big positive. He is one of our match-winners. He is a world-class player. For him to get into form is very important going into the World Cup. He will be one of India’s key players in Australia. Then the young Arshdeep Singh bowled very well. It’s good to see young cricketers coming up and performing at this level. Arshdeep is a very talented player. He is short on experience, but having said that, he bowled brilliantly in the death overs. It’s a good sign because he is playing these high-pressure games. He has really come of age in that sense.

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