The Indian team for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou has been announced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and it comes with a surprising captaincy decision. Ruturaj Gaikwad, a relatively new face in international cricket with only 10 games under his belt, has been given the responsibility to lead the side. This decision raised eyebrows, as many expected Shikhar Dhawan to be the skipper, but the veteran opener was left out of the squad by the selectors.
Given that the Asian Games will be played in the T20 format, the selectors have opted for players who have experience in the Indian Premier League (IPL). These players will be expected to showcase their best performances and bring home the gold medal for the country. Out of the 15-member Indian squad, 11 players are favored to form a strong India XI during the tournament.
Let's take a look at India's strongest XI for the Asian Games 2023:
1. Ruturaj Gaikwad (c)
Ruturaj Gaikwad will be leading the team, and his role will be crucial both as a batsman and a leader. As a batsman, he will need to provide aggressive starts to the team with his dynamic batting style. In T20 Internationals (T20Is), Gaikwad's batting numbers haven't been particularly impressive, as he has scored only 135 runs in eight innings from nine matches.
However, there are positive signs as well. In a T20I match against South Africa in Vishakhapatnam in June 2022, he smashed his maiden half-century. Moreover, during the IPL 2023 season, he was outstanding for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), amassing 590 runs in 16 matches at an impressive strike rate of 147.50.
When we consider his overall batting numbers in the IPL, the 26-year-old has accumulated 1797 runs in 52 matches at a strike rate of 135.52. In the Asian Games, Gaikwad will have to lead from the front and make a significant impact to help India perform well in the tournament.
2. Yashasvi Jaiswal
Yashasvi Jaiswal will play a crucial role in supporting Gaikwad to provide effective starts to the team. The young left-handed batsman showcased his talent during IPL 2023, earning him a spot in the Indian team for the upcoming Asian Games in September-October. With an impressive performance of 625 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 163.61, Jaiswal finished as the fifth-leading run-scorer in IPL 2023.
Drawing from his experience in domestic cricket and the IPL, Jaiswal will aim to outperform opponents in the Asian Games 2022. In his domestic career, he has featured in 57 T20 matches, amassing 1578 runs in 55 innings at a strike rate of 143.84.
Having been active for Rajasthan Royals (RR) since 2020, Jaiswal has accumulated 1172 runs in 37 games at a strike rate of 148.73. The upcoming Asian Games present a golden opportunity for him to showcase his skills to the team and secure his place in India's T20I squad.
3. Shivam Dube
Shivam Dube is likely to play a key role as India's number three in the tournament. His hard-hitting abilities have been on display multiple times in the IPL. Since 2019, Dube has been an active participant in the cash-rich league, amassing 1106 runs in 51 matches at an impressive strike rate of 141.79.
In the 2022 season, Dube joined CSK, and this year, he played a pivotal role in their historic fifth title win. The 30-year-old batsman hammered 418 runs in 16 matches at a sensational strike rate of 158.33. While Rahul Tripathi is also in contention for the number three position in the team, his performances have not been up to the mark this year.
Despite Dube's strong performances in the IPL, his T20I batting figures have been underwhelming. In 13 T20Is, he has managed to score only 105 runs in nine innings at a strike rate of 136.66. This disparity between his IPL reputation and international numbers raises questions about his consistency at the highest level.
4. Tilak Verma
Tilak Varma has been a standout performer for Mumbai Indians (MI) in the last two IPL seasons (2022 and 2023). Making his IPL debut in 2022, he made an immediate impact by scoring 397 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 131.02. The following year, in 2023, he continued to shine with an impressive tally of 343 runs in 11 games at a remarkable strike rate of 164.11.
His consistent performances in the league caught the attention of the selectors, who have now included him in the squad for the Asian Games 2022. If given the opportunity to play, Varma will need to deliver effective performances in the tournament. His excellence in T20 cricket extends beyond just the IPL, as evidenced by his batting numbers in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2022-23.
Representing Hyderabad, Varma scored 297 runs in seven matches during SMAT 2022-23, with six innings at an impressive strike rate of 136.23. Considering his current form, he appears to be an ideal batsman to strengthen India's middle order in the upcoming competition.
5. Jitesh Sharma (wk)
Jitesh Sharma is likely to be entrusted with the responsibility of wicketkeeping and bolstering the middle order with his batting prowess. Renowned in domestic cricket, he has been instrumental in delivering numerous match-winning performances for Vidarbha, showcasing extraordinary batting skills. Over the past two years, his scintillating performances in the IPL for Punjab Kings (PBKS) have gained him recognition among cricket fans.
Since 2022, Jitesh has been a key player for PBKS in the IPL, amassing 543 runs in 26 games at an impressive strike rate of 159.24. During IPL 2023, he continued his fine form, scoring 309 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 156.06. The 29-year-old has proven to be a valuable asset as a finisher, playing crucial innings for PBKS during his two-year IPL career.
Notably, Jitesh's domestic T20 record for Vidarbha is exceptional as well. He holds the title of being the highest run-scorer for Vidarbha with 1553 runs in 64 T20 matches at a strike rate of 145.82. With the upcoming Asian event on the horizon, he will be eager to showcase his best and take on bowling attacks with his aggressive batting display.
6. Rinku Singh
Rinku Singh's exclusion from India's T20I squad for the West Indies tour sparked a lot of discontent among the Indian cricket team's supporters. And rightfully so, considering Rinku's impressive performances in both IPL and domestic cricket. In IPL 2023, he emerged as the leading run-scorer for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), amassing an impressive 474 runs in 14 matches at a strike rate of 149.52.
Throughout the tournament, Rinku's match-finishing abilities caught the attention of cricket fans as he played crucial innings for KKR in high-pressure matches. Now, having secured a spot in India's 15-member squad for the Asian Games 2022, he will be eager to contribute to the team's pursuit of a gold medal.
Although he hasn't had the opportunity to represent India in matches yet, Rinku remains undeterred and focused on making significant contributions with his batting. His domestic T20 record is remarkable, boasting 1768 runs in 81 innings from 89 T20 matches at an impressive strike rate of 140.87. With such credentials, he aims to showcase his talent and play a pivotal role in India's success at the Asian Games.
7. Washington Sunder
Washington Sundar is likely to play a crucial role as an all-rounder in solidifying the Indian team for the Asian Games 2022. With the bat, the team management may entrust him with the responsibility of being a finisher, ensuring he concludes matches for the side during the tournament. On the other hand, in the bowling department, he is expected to lead the spin attack.
In his six-year international career, Sundar has represented India in 35 T20Is, where he has proven to be a valuable asset with 29 wickets in 33 innings at an impressive economy rate of 7.22. However, his batting numbers have not been as remarkable, scoring 107 runs in 14 innings at a strike rate of 152.85. Nevertheless, with his experience in the IPL and domestic cricket, he is well-equipped to deliver his best for India in the 2022 Asian Games.
Sundar's IPL journey spanning seven seasons has seen him accumulate 36 wickets in 58 matches, maintaining an economical bowling rate of 7.34. His role in the upcoming event will be of utmost importance as India strives to achieve their goal of winning the gold medal. His proficiency both with the bat and ball will be vital in the team's quest for success in the tournament.
8. Mukesh Kumar
Mukesh Kumar's hard work and dedication in domestic cricket paid off when he secured an IPL contract with Delhi Capitals (DC) in December 2022. Now, the selectors have shown their confidence in him by granting the fast bowler an opportunity in India's T20I side. Mukesh has earned a place in the recently announced India squad for the 2022 Asian Games.
Despite a less impressive bowling performance in IPL 2023, where he managed to take only seven wickets in 10 matches with an economy rate of 10.52, the selectors have still shown faith in him for both the West Indies T20Is and the Asian Games. Now, in the Asian Games 2022, Mukesh will need to display his best bowling skills and contribute significantly to India's quest for the gold medal.
Looking at his domestic T20 record, Mukesh has a decent tally of 32 wickets for Bengal in 33 matches at an economy rate of 8.11. His performance will undoubtedly be critical to India's success in the upcoming prestigious event.
The selectors' decision to include Mukesh in the squads demonstrates their belief in his abilities, and now it's up to him to seize the opportunity and make a significant impact on India's journey in the marquee event ahead.
9. Shivam Mavi
Shivam Mavi will play a crucial role in strengthening India's pace attack in the Asian Games 2022. This year, he had the opportunity to make his international debut for India in T20Is under the captaincy of Hardik Pandya. So far, in the six games he has played for India, he has been impressive, claiming seven wickets at an economy rate of 8.78.
In domestic cricket, he has been a consistent performer for Uttar Pradesh, taking 53 wickets in 52 T20 matches at an economy rate of 8.31. His outstanding performance in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) 2022-23 stood out, where he picked up 10 wickets in seven matches at an impressive economy rate of 6.64, earning him the title of the highest wicket-taker for Uttar Pradesh.
His disciplined and impactful display in SMAT 2022-23 earned him a lucrative IPL contract worth INR 6 crore with Gujarat Titans (GT). However, during the IPL competition, he faced limited opportunities and spent most of the time on the bench, as the team management did not give him a chance to feature in any of the games for GT.
Now, in the Asian Games, Mavi will be eager to prove his worth and contribute significantly to India's pace attack. His recent performances show his potential, and he will be determined to make a mark on the international stage and help India in their pursuit of success in the tournament.
10. Arshdeep Singh
Arshdeep Singh will lead India's bowling attack in the crucial event scheduled for September-October. Having made his T20I debut against England in July 2022, he has quickly established himself as a key player, claiming 41 wickets in 26 games at an economy rate of 8.39. He showcased his talent in both the Asia Cup 2022 and ICC World T20 2022 for India.
Representing Punjab Kings (PBKS) in IPL 2023, he picked up 17 wickets in 14 matches, emerging as the highest wicket-taker for the team. However, his economy rate of 9.70 attracted criticism from former cricketing legends and analysts.
Despite the scrutiny, Arshdeep has proven to be a formidable force for batters with his bowling abilities. His repertoire includes lethal variations such as toe-crushing yorkers, deceptive slower balls, well-directed bouncers, and crafty cutters. These skills have impressed both the team management and Indian cricket supporters.
In the upcoming Asian Games 2022, Arshdeep's role will be pivotal in providing early breakthroughs to the team with his exceptional bowling skills. His ability to disrupt opposition batsmen and pick up crucial wickets will be crucial for India's success in the tournament.
11. Ravi Bishnoi
Ravi Bishnoi is a well-known figure in India's domestic cricket circuit and the IPL. His exceptional bowling performances have been instrumental in securing victories for his domestic team, Rajasthan. Since February 2019, he has been actively participating in domestic T20s, amassing an impressive tally of 101 wickets in 87 matches at an economy rate of 7.17.
Having made his IPL debut in 2020 for Punjab Kings (PBKS), he has become an integral part of the Lucknow Super Giants' (LSG) squad since 2022. Over his four-year IPL career, Bishnoi has taken 53 wickets in 52 games at an economy rate of 7.59. The recent IPL edition was particularly fruitful for him, as he scalped 16 wickets in 15 matches at an economy of 7.74.
In February 2022, he donned the national colors for the first time in a T20I match between India and West Indies at Eden Gardens. So far, in 10 T20Is, the leg-spinner has claimed 16 wickets at an economy rate of 7.08. Impressed by his impressive bowling statistics, the selectors have included him in the squad for the Asian Games 2022, and now his responsibility will be to deliver effective performances with the ball in the upcoming tournament.