Halfway into the tournament, Asia Cup 2023 has made more headlines because of the weather than the action on the ground. The Sri Lanka leg of the tournament has been heavily affected by the rain.
The incessant weather has certainly put India’s road to the World Cup and their Asia Cup campaign in jeopardy. India’s first match against Pakistan in Pallekele was washed out after India was bowled out for 266 in the 49th over. Against Nepal, in another rain-curtailed match India won it by a thumping margin of ten wickets.
No fresh toss
There won’t be a fresh toss on the reserve day. India and Pakistan will resume their rain-hit Asia Cup clash on Monday with India at 147-2 from 24.1 overs.
Washout put India in jeopardy
India’s first Super Four match against Pakistan also looks like it will go down the drain. The reports from Sri Lanka suggest that heavy rains and thunderstorms are predicted for the whole of Monday evening, and the India vs Pakistan fixture will be on the mercy of the rain gods.
Another washout will make India’s road to the Asia Cup final will get difficult. The heavy downpour in Colombo on Sunday, forced the umpires to call off the play. The reserve day was activated, with organizers aiming to have a full 50 overs for each innings — weather permitting.
The current situation has put India in a tricky position as now they will be playing on three consecutive days, with another Super Four match against Sri Lanka due to be played on Tuesday.
If there will be no play on Monday, the points will be shared. In that scenario, India will be in a must-win situation in their next two games against Sri Lanka (On Tuesday) and Bangladesh (On Friday).
Given the weather forecast of the entire week in Colombo, there are high chances that India’s next fixtures will also be affected by rain, which will make India’s chance to qualify for the final very bleak.
Pakistan on the other hand, with a thumping seven-wicket win over Bangladesh, is looking like one of the favourites to qualify for the final. Their next match is against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
With the match heading into the reserve day, should a 50-over game be completed on Monday, it will make things difficult for India. Rohit Sharma & Co are scheduled to take on Sri Lanka in their second Super 4 match on Tuesday and in case they play a full 50-over contest, their bowlers will have very little time to recover. Jasprit Bumrah is coming after a long injury lay-off and playing back-to-back matches in these conditions could be exhausting, particularly if the rain stays away.
Under those circumstances, India may be forced to ring in changes, which is far from ideal for their preparation for the World Cup as they are looking to play their full-strength XI in all matches in the lead-up. This could open the door for Mohammed Shami and Prasidh Krishna to come in so that Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj get adequate rest before their third Super 4 match against Bangladesh, scheduled for Friday.
Roadblock ahead of World Cup
For the Indian cricket team, Asia Cup was the tournament where they could have assessed the fitness of their three key players, Jasprit Bumrah, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who are returning from long injury layoffs. For a tournament that is being played just five weeks before the World Cup, it was supposed to be a dress rehearsal.