Irfan Pathan gave a blunt verdict on Rohit Sharma’s captaincy.

The Indian selectors recently announced the squad for the Asia Cup T20 tournament, which will be played in the UAE from August 27 to November 11. Rohit Sharma has been named captain of the squad, while KL Rahul, returning after recovering from injury and COVID-19, has been named vice-captain. The selectors have been forced to make tough choices due to the many available options. There is no place for Sanju Samson, while Ishan Kishan has also been left out. Shreyas Iyer, Deepak Chahar and Axar Patel have been picked as backups. India will kick off their campaign by taking on Pakistan in Dubai on August 28. Here’s Team India’s predicted playing XI for Asia Cup 2022.

Openers: Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul

The captain and vice-captain will take up the responsibility of opening the innings. After a phase where he found runs difficult to come by, Rohit Sharma has discovered some rhythm in recent matches. He scored an unbeaten 76 against England in an ODI at The Oval, 64 off 44 in the first T20I against West Indies and 33 off 16 in the fourth match of the same series. As for Rahul, the 30-year-old last played competitive cricket during IPL 2022. He registered the fifties in his last two knocks. His last match for India was an ODI against West Indies at home in February this year.

Middle-order batters: Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik

The Asia Cup will also mark the return of Virat Kohli to the Indian team after missing out on the West Indies series. He will not be part of the upcoming ODIs in Zimbabwe as well. As his poor form continued in England, all eyes will be on the 33-year-old. If anything, it only got worse. The former India captain registered the highest score of 20 from six international innings on tour.

The in-form Suryakumar Yadav should occupy the No. 4 slot with Rahul returning to the team. While there were mixed reactions to the 31-year-old opening the innings against West Indies, he scored a brilliant 76 off 44 in the third T20I in India’s chase of 165. He scored a couple of 20s as well, although he would have been disappointed not to have converted the start.

Keeper-batter Rishabh Pant should come in at No. 5. The 24-year-old finally seems to be converting his Test form into white ball success as well. He scored a spectacular 125* in the deciding ODI in England at Old Trafford in Manchester. Pant also registered a mature 33 not out in the third T20I against West Indies and top-scored with 44 in the fourth T20I of the same series. He will be keen to carry on his form in the Asia Cup, building up to the T20 World Cup.

There have been mixed reactions to Dinesh Karthik in the finisher’s role. But the current think tank seems to have placed its faith in him as a finisher. And he has been repaying the trust so far. He scored a brilliant fifty in the South Africa T20Is at home and smashed an unbeaten 41 off 19 in the opening T20I against West Indies.

All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja

On current form, Hardik Pandya picks himself in the playing XI. He has contributed handsomely with bat and ball. He scored 71 and claimed four scalps in England’s final ODI of the series. In West Indies, he kept contributing with bat and ball. 

Ravindra Jadeja could find a place in the playing XI ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin. The latter has done nothing wrong. But Jadeja’s all-round skills give him the upper hand.

Bowlers: Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh

Ravi Bishnoi did well in West Indies, but Yuzvendra Chahal looks set to return to the playing XI after being rested for the Windies T20Is. Experienced pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar should also make it to the playing XI as he has displayed great form and rhythm. Also, with Jasprit Bumrah unavailable due to injury, Arshdeep Singh should keep his place in the playing XI. He has been fantastic in the few games he has played for India.

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