The announcement of India’s squad for the Asia Cup on Monday was on expected lines, with KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer’s return from injuries emerging as big positives and one that promises to solve the team’s middle-order woes. Shreyas at 4 and Rahul at 5 seem to be the answer to all problems, followed by Hardik Pandya at 6 and Ravindra Jadeja at 7. Add to that Jasprit Bumrah’s comeback into the squad after close to a year, and India’s Asia Cup Playing XI almost picks for itself.
The only concern for India heading into the Asia Cup however, is lack of match practice for both Rahul and Iyer, a fact echoed by former all-rounder Kapil Dev. Both individuals participated in a practice match at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), yet no level of simulation can truly replicate the dynamics of an actual ODI, let alone when the bowling attack in front of you features Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah. Although BCCI chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar informed that Rahul might miss the first two games of the Asia Cup owing to a niggle he picked up after recovering from his hamstring injury, KL will automatically get back in eventually. Having said that, if Kapil is to be believed, including both fit-again batters in India’s Playing XI could be a blessing in disguise.
‘What if Rahul and Iyer head to the World Cup and get injured?’: Kapil
“Ideally every player should be tested out. The World Cup is so close but you still haven’t given the players a chance? What if they head to the World Cup and then get injured? The entire team will suffer. Here, at least they will get a chance to bat or bowl a little and get some rhythm going,” Kapil said on ABP News.
“Worst case scenario, if the guys get injured again during the World Cup, it will be unfair to the players who will miss out on being part of the squad. The injured players who have returned need to be given a chance. If they are fit, then can play the World Cup. There is no shortage of talent, but if they are not fit, India will have a chance to make changes to the World Cup squad right away.”
At No.4, Shreyas has scored a total of 805 runs with an impressive average of 47.35 and a notable strike-rate of 94.37. On the other hand, Rahul, batting at 5, has tallied 742 runs at a remarkable average of 53, accompanied by a striking strike-rate of 99.33. It’s highly likely that the star-studded Asia Cup 2023 squad will closely resemble the final 15 players picked by the BCCI for India’s World Cup campaign, which makes Kapil’s point all the more crucial
“You have a wonderful opportunity to create a team for the World Cup and the Asia Cup is a fine platform. I want these players to go and express themselves. But if there is any sort of question mark, they don’t need to be around. If you do not give them a chance, it will be unfair to not just the players but also the selectors. I am aware that the World Cup is taking place in India but you need to pick the best and fittest team,” added the legendary India all-rounder.