Team India became the first to qualify for the final of the 2023 Asia Cup earlier this week when it defeated Pakistan and Sri Lanka on successive days in Colombo earlier this week. The side cruised to a mammoth 228-run win over arch-rivals Pakistan before holding nerves to beat hosts Sri Lanka by 41 runs in a low-scoring thriller. It was an impressive bowling effort in both matches from India, as the side restricted the oppositions on 128 (vs Pakistan) and 172 (vs Sri Lanka) respectively.
Unlike in the past few months, there has been little tinkering with the team combination as well, as Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj remained the first-choice pacers for the Asia Cup. The only game Bumrah missed was against Nepal – due to personal reasons – as Mohammed Shami replaced him in the group match. Shami’s absence in the playing XI raised many eyebrows, as he has remained one of the first-choice pacers in the side for many years across formats.
However, ahead of India’s final Super Four Stage encounter against Bangladesh, India’s bowling coach, Paras Mhambrey, stated that the decision to exclude Mohammed Shami from the playing XI was made in the best interest of the side. In his last appearance against Nepal, Shami claimed one wicket while conceding 29 runs.
“It’s not very easy to drop someone like Shami. The experience that he has and the performance that he has done for the country is phenomenal. It’s never easy to have that kind of a conversation (dropping a player),” he said.
Mhambrey said while it was a difficult choice, the player concerned has been conveyed clearly about the team decision. “But we are clear in the way we have gone about the conversation with the players and they have shown confidence in us.
“Players know any decision that we take and they know that it is for the benefit of the team,” said Mhambrey.
India await second finalist
Team India await their opposition in the final of the Asia Cup, with one of Sri Lanka and Pakistan set for the second berth in the title clash. The match between the two teams – scheduled for Thursday – thus becomes a virtual knock-out; however, the weather conditions haven’t been quite conducive in Colombo and the toss was delayed for the game, with rain continuing to hamper proceedings in the continental tournament.
If not for the reserve day, the Super 4 match between India and Pakistan would have also resulted in a washout, as India could only play 24.2 overs before rain eventually suspended the play on Sunday.