The Asia Cup is set to make its return for the first time this year since 2018 and as enthusiasm grows for the competition’s 15th edition, four former Indian athletes are struggling to run it back with the national team since they last played in 2018-2019.
India is the current defending champions of the Asia Cup after the team snatched the title away from Bangladesh in 2018. Team India defeated its ODI series rival by three wickets in the final and in the process, the team successfully retained the title after winning it back in 2016.
Some of the key players that were once shining stars for the team include all-rounder batsman Kedar Jadhav, right-handed batsman Manish Pandey, right-arm fast-medium bowler Siddarth Kaul, and left-arm fast-medium bowler Khaleel Ahmed. Aside from Jadhav, the three others were present in this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
Jadhav debuted his cricketing career in 2007 playing for the Pune-based domestic cricketing team, Maharashtra. Reportedly, after his appearance with the national team in 2019 as the middle-order batsman, the 37-year-old remains loyal to Maharashtra.
He was signed by a total of four IPL franchises from 2013-2015 with the Delhi Daredevils, a year stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2016-2017, inked two years playing contract with the Chennai Super Kings and his last stop was the Sunrisers Hyderabad in 2021.
Jadhav was a versatile and useful cricketer back then. He was famous for being a handy off-spin option for the national team. However, the Pune native was dropped from The Men in Blue’s lineup and left to the side by IPL teams for his inconsistent playing form.
Pandey is next on the list. Considered by cricket enthusiasts as one of the most talented domestic players, he remained on Team India’s radar from 2015 to 2021. Whenever the national team would drop him from the squad, the 32-year-old always manages to find a way to play in the domestic scene and to remain in the IPL until The Men in Blue is keen on having him on board.
However, after playing with Team India in 2021, it appears very unlikely that Pandey will be given the chance to join the national team since selectors have not laid eyes on Pandey due to other batting talents who were considered more efficient than him. Despite this, the Nainital native was drafted by the Lucknow Super Giants to play in the 2022 IPL after a three-year stint with the Sunrisers.
Kaul is joining Jadhav and Pandey after back-to-back successful stories in 2018, and 2019. The 32-year-old played five years with the Sunrisers from 2016 to 2021. Within those years, he recorded one of his career-best with the team in 2018 while also juggling three ODIs in addition to three T20I with Team India. Kaul would hit rock bottom, struggling to play domestic games and hitting wickets in the IPL. The Royal Challengers Bangalore drafted him this year.
Last on the list is Ahmed. The 24-year-old hit major news headlines in 2018-2019 after a stellar playing career in the IPL with the Sunrisers as well as domestic cricket. His feat in those years brought him entry to play 25 games with Team India.
However, the Tonk native has been struggling to make a comeback with the national team as his fitness and playing form are nowhere near his prime days.