Asia Cup 2023: Litmus Test for the Indian Giants before the World Cup?

Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are coming back from injury. Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli are struggling with form ahead of the World Cup.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip Mohanty

Last Updated: 2023-09-04

Sharma's Team are Strong Contenders

The 13th edition of the ICC Men’s Cricket World cup is just around the corner. India will host the marquee event from October 5 to November 19. Ten best teams in the world will feature in the tournament in a bid to win the trophy. Hosts India are strong contenders yet again as they rank number 3 in the ICC ODI rankings and previously won the trophy co-hosting the event back in 2011.

Rohit Sharma is set to lead the team in his first 50-over World cup and will look to put an inspiring performance in a bid to win the title for the 3rd time after Kapil Dev’s and MS Dhoni’s teams did the job in 1983 and 2011 respectively. The team has shaped up well in the format in the past couple of years and the selectors have almost circled the 15-member squad that will get the nod.

With the team’s good run of form, there are some concerns flashing ahead with regards to form of key players, various injuries and plenty of comebacks. A 17-member Indian team is playing the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka (co-hosts with Pakistan) and it is almost certain the World cup 15 will be slotted from the selected group. Let’s take a look at some players and the concerns revolving around them that needs to be addressed.

Shubman Gill’s slump in form and weakness against incoming deliveries

The highest run scorer in the ODI format since the beginning of 2022, Gill has struggled with scoring runs in recent times. More so while playing in overseas conditions. Though the World cup will be played at home, lack of runs under his belt might play with Gill’s mind. The team management has shown faith in him and are backing him for the all important second opener’s role along with skipper Rohit for the World cup but there are plenty of other names knocking the team’s door for the same slot.

The names include Gill’s opening partner in the Caribbean, Ishan Kishan, former skipper Shikhar Dhawan who has an impeccable record in multi-team events and in World cups as well. KL Rahul, Yashasvi Jaiswal are other strong contenders for the role for which Gill has been backed.

Shubman Gill

In One-Day Internationals

TILL MAR 202321125420873.8109.8
SINCE MAR 202371938527.671.2
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Despite being out of touch, Gill is still the highest ranked Indian batter grabbing the number 4 slot. Behind him is the legendary Virat Kohli who has a similar story with the recent run of form. Gill’s 1398 runs at - an average of 66.57 and an impressive strike rate - are the most number of runs in the world since 2022. He has belted four centuries and six fifties also becoming the eighth batter in the world to score a double ton in the format.

Since the New Zealand’s tour of India where Gill scored a double hundred and a hundred, he has scored a solitary fifty in the last seven innings. That fifty came against West Indies last month, a team that couldn’t qualify for the World cup. The most concerning factor has been his strike rate as he struggled to put a painstaking 10 run in 32 balls against Pakistan in India’s first match in the Asia Cup at Pallekele.

The bowlers have also found out the weakness that Gill has in his defence. He has a visible weakness against the seamers who can bring the ball back to him. Out of his 24 dismissals in ODIs he has gotten out to pacers 19 times. In those 19 times he has got out to deliveries that have moved in in 11 times (58%). 


Opening the innings is a huge responsibility to shoulder that too with the skipper of the team. Hence, Gill needs to find his mojo yet again and needs to get some big scores under his belt in the Asia cup. He is playing in Sri Lanka for the first time, but the conditions don’t differ too much from what is offered in the Southern part of India.

Jasprit Bumrah’s International Come Back

India’s pace bowling spearhead has made a comeback after missing cricket for almost a year due to prolonged back injury. A surgery in New Zealand and a long rehab at the National Cricket Academy made it possible for Bumrah to don the blue jersey yet again as he led the team on the T20 tour of Ireland.

Having played only 5 ODIs since January 2022, he is under the pump with pretty less game time. In the rain-hit series against Ireland, he bowled full quota of four overs in the first two matches yielding 4 wickets for 39 runs. His return fueled the team’s hopes and his inclusion in the Asia cup team is a witness to it.

However, the last two matches he has featured in were both interrupted due to rain not allowing him to bowl a single over. After featuring in a couple of T20Is, Bumrah was included in his first ODI after July 2022 to play against arch rivals Pakistan in the men-in-blue’s Asia cup opener but the rain washed out the entire Indian bowling innings meaning Bumrah missed out on a chance to test his fitness. Now its being reported that he will give the second game against Nepal a miss due to personal reasons and will come back for the super 4 stage.

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A record of 121 wickets in 73 matches is too good to merit selection but current form and fitness matters as well

Being the leader of the pace attack that goes in the World cup, it needs to be ensured he gets enough game time and stays match fit for the entirety of the World cup. A record of 121 wickets in 73 matches is too good to merit selection but current form and fitness matters as well.

Shreyas Iyer coming back from injury

India’s preferred number 4 batter was also out of action for six months due to a back injury and last featured for India in an ODI back in January 2023 when the Asia cup co-hosts Sri Lanka travelled to India. Iyer then featured in the Border-Gavaskar trophy but was ruled out during the 4th Test after he complained of pain in his lower back.

Iyer has been a force to be reckoned with and his resurgence in the ODI side tempted the pundits to think that the men-in-blue have finally solved their number 4 puzzle. With 832 runs in 19 innings since 2022, Iyer stands only behind Gill in the list of highest run scorers for India since 2022.

One of the modern greats, part of the 2011 World cup winning team, Kohli is a certainty at number 3 in the upcoming World Cup. With almost 13000 runs under his belt in the format and an amazing record over the years, Kohli has set a benchmark so high, that a little slump of form here and there makes the Indian batting order look worrisome.

A player who leads by example, the Indian lineup has depended on the right hander for too long and his form has been the difference on various occasions. With more than 1000 runs in 7 different calendar years, Kohli hasn’t reached the mark since 2019. A break in international cricket due to COVID-19 can be another reason but his average dipped down below 50 and slumped to its lowest of 27.45 in 2022 where he hit just one century and 2 fifties in 11 innings.

Finding his form back in Tests and T20s, Kohli was offered a break along with Rohit Sharma from the shortest format before the World cup. In the 10 innings this year, Kohli has hit a couple of centuries, a half century at an average of 47.88 and an improved strike rate of 114.93, the best he has scored runs at since making his debut.

After ending 2022 with a ton and beginning 2023 with another two, he has since failed to get to three figures and has scored just one-half century in the next 7 innings. In the last 7 innings he has averaged 21.14 with a strike rate of 87.57. His struggles against left arm fast bowlers, spinners have been exposed again with the old trouble of fishing outside the off stump occurring more often than not in all formats.

Most Runs For India

In ODIs Since 2022

S Gill25139866.57104.17
S Iyer1983248.9493.58
V Kohli2173336.65101.52
I Kishan1571651.14105.13
S Dhawan2268834.474.21
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He hit his last ODI century way back in October 2022 against South Africa and has reached 80s twice afterwards. The management had backed him over Suryakumar Yadav and KL Rahul to bat at 4 in the Asia cup opener against Pakistan but the Mumbai stalwart could only add 14 runs before getting out to Haris Rauf. His long-term absence and now not having enough runs under the belt have given more headache to the Indian management.

KL Rahul's fresh injury ahead of Asia Cup

The experienced batter hailing from Karnataka, who has batted at every position from opening to number 6 for the team suffered a thigh injury during the IPL where he led the Lucknow Super Giants. After having a successful surgery and long rehab, Rahul was included in the squad for Asia cup despite having another new niggle. Sanju Samson was named as his travelling reserve.
With 477 runs at an average of 36.69 in 15 ODI innings since January 2022, Rahul’s spot in the XI is well contested by young left-hander Ishan Kishan who has proved that he can successfully shuttle around in the top and middle order.

Kishan has had a terrific career so far with 776 runs in 17 innings at an average of 49 and strike rate of 107. His only hundred was a double against Bangladesh. His recent outings have been brilliant with 4 half centuries in as many innings, with all of them coming away from home.

Batting at number 5, Kishan played a matured and yet agreesive knock of 82 against Pakistan in the Asia Cup opener. The team was struggling at 48/3 and recovered to get 266 thanks to his and Hardik Pandya’s efforts. Number 5 is the position Rahul has played majority of his one-day innings with 742 runs at an average of 53. The long term absence pits him in direct competition with Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav for that one spot in the middle order. With Rishabh Pant to miss the World cup, Rahul needs to be fit enough to keep wickets as well in order to outbid Kishan and Sanju Samson for a spot in the XI.

Suryakumar Yadav's lack of form in ODI

Batting in the middle order, Suryakumar Yadav was looked as someone who can provide the impetus in the middle overs with his aggressive batting style and unorthodox strokeplay. Though Yadav has a promising strike rate of 101.38 in the 26 ODIs he has played, his average is a mere 24.33 with only two half centuries under his belt, both coming against Sri Lanka and West Indies, teams that played the World Cup qualifier earlier this year.

His most recent ODI fifty came in February 2022 and since then he has scored nine single digit scores including three consecutive ducks against Australia till now. After failing to impress in the three ODIs against West Indies, Yadav was dropped from the playing XI from India’s Asia cup opener making way for Shreyas Iyer in the side.

Suryakumar Yadav


TILL MAR 2023184336428.9101.4
SINCE MAR 20236784513.094.0
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The poor and unimpressive run of form is an indication we might not have the flamboyant Mumbai batter in the 15-man World Cup squad with plenty of options successfully knocking at the door for a spot in the Indian middle order. Though Suryakumar’s spot in the T20 squad seems untouchable, in ODIs he needs something special to seal his place if he gets some game time in the Asia cup.

Virat Kohli’s struggle with form

Virat Kohli's Last 7 Innings

In ODIs (Ending on 2nd Sept 2023)

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There have also been talks about Kohli batting lower at number 4 as well but he stuck to his number 3 position in the game against Pakistan but couldn’t add to his total after a majestic cover drive got him a boundary. That game proved it yet again that the master is batting well, but the runs are drying up.

A successful Asia cup with at least a couple big scores, if not more, to his name can boost the morale of the team, of the whole nation and the man himself.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip MohantySports Editor

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.