With less than 9 days remaining for the blockbuster clash between India and Pakistan, former Indian cricketer Sanjay Manjrekar has finalised his Indian playing XI in the lead-up to the Asia Cup 2023. Resuming their epic rivalry before the ICC World Cup 2023, traditional rivals India and Pakistan will lock horns in match No.3 of the Asia Cup at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
Former champions India have announced its 17-man squad for the Asia Cup with skipper Rohit and chief selector Ajit Agarkar addressing a press conference in the national capital on Monday. The return of superstars KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer was perhaps the biggest takeaway from the squad announcement of the Men In Blue.
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Rahul, who last played a competitive match during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023, has been named in the Asia Cup squad despite an injury scare. Rahul picked up a niggle while recovering from a thigh injury. Since the Indian batter has been picked in the squad as a wicketkeeper, Manjrekar believes that the name of the ex-vice-captain will be on the team sheet for the Asia Cup opener.
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‘KL Rahul would play because he is the keeper’
“My three seamers would be Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami. Hardik Pandya would be my fourth seamer. My spinners would be Jadeja and Kuldeep. My opener would be Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma. No. 3 batter would be Virat Kohli. KL Rahul would play because he is the keeper,” Manjrekar told ESPNcricinfo.
While Iyer was declared completely fit, chief selector Agarkar clarified that Rahul had a niggle that is unrelated to his original injury. Thus, India have also added Sanju Samson as a reserve batter for the Asia Cup. At a time when India are on the lookout for a permanent No.4 batter, Manjrekar observed that either Iyer or uncapped Tilak Varma can feature in the Indian middle-order.
‘Either Shreyas Iyer or Tilak Varma could play’
“Either Shreyas Iyer or Tilak Varma could play [in the middle-order]. I am saying this because in India’s first-choice side XI, the first seven (six) batters, including Hardik Pandya, are all right-handers. Somewhere, India will have to fit in a left-hander in Tilak Varma. This is a problem India has,” Manjrekar added.
Manjrekar’s India XI for Asia Cup clash with Pakistan
Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer/ Tilak Varma, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj