Hardik Pandya started the tournament in roaring fashion, bowling with pace and venom. His short-ball trick had Pakistan gasping in the team's opening match, but when Avesh Khan became unavailable and India needed the allrounder to step up as a third seamer, things didn't go so well.
Deepak Hooda's success for Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL had been while batting mainly in the top four. At the Asia Cup, he was the designated finisher and a sixth bowling option in the absence of Ravindra Jadeja. But in three games, he bowled just one over and that too against Afghanistan when the contest was already over. It sparked the debate over Dinesh Karthik's exclusion. Karthik has been earmarked as the finisher, but when India needed someone for that very role against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the death overs, they didn't have his services.
India have backed Axar Patel over the past year-and-a-half as Jadeja's all-weather like-for-like replacement. Yet, when the time came to cash in on that investment, India went in an entirely different direction and picked Hooda instead. Jadeja's absence also meant India had to play Rishabh Pant to have at least one left-hand batter in the top six. To accommodate this change, the axe fell on Karthik. Pant had an underwhelming tournament with the bat, making scores of 14, 17 and 20* in his three outings.
Kohli ended his century drought by hitting his first T20I ton, Rohit made a bruising 41-ball 72 against Sri Lanka, and KL Rahul overcame a sluggish start to the tournament to find form and fluency in the later outings. If the top order had been a concern coming into the tournament, they walked out of it with the issue seemingly settled. In the game against Sri Lanka, Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav kept playing positive cricket despite India being reduced to 13 for 2 inside three overs. Even though the top three didn't always go ballistic from ball one, there was a concerted effort to be as aggressive as possible. No more building platforms for the middle order to cash in. This backfired a bit in their Super 4s match against Pakistan, but India want to play this way and a couple of losses are unlikely to make them change that.
Yuzvendra Chahal had an indifferent tournament but kept India in the hunt against Sri Lanka by picking up three wickets. On bigger grounds in Australia, his style of bowling could make him a massive asset. If Jadeja is unavailable for the T20 World Cup, and Axar turns out to be his replacement, it could leave the selectors to choose between R Ashwin's experience and Ravi Bishnoi's novelty. Both players did fine in the limited opportunities they were handed at the Asia Cup. Bishnoi bowls the googly as his stock ball and is quicker through the air and off the pitch, something Pakistan struggled to come to grips with as the chase got tense. Ashwin more than held his own in reining Sri Lanka in after a big start to their chase. It will not be an easy call for the selectors to choose between them.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo