The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced Team India’s 17-member squad for the Asia Cup 2023, with one of the major takeaways being the return of the star batting duo of Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul. However, the selection of Iyer and Rahul without field-testing their fitness is undoubtedly a calculated risk. Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar practically confirmed that Rahul’s participation in the tournament opener against Pakistan on September 2 is doubtful due to a niggle. While the chief selector didn’t detail the nature of Rahul’s ailment, he clarified that it wasn’t a recurrence of his original injury that had sidelined him during the latter half of this year’s IPL.
Rahul had undergone surgery on his right calf after sustaining the injury during an IPL 2023 match against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in Lucknow. Parallelly, Shreyas Iyer grappled with a recurring back concern, which rendered him unavailable for the entire IPL season. However, Iyer is expected to return for the opener and as such, former India batter Kris Srikkanth wasn’t too pleased with Rahul’s call-up.
Srikkanth believes Rahul shouldn’t have been picked in the Indian squad if he was still recovering from the injury.
“It’s being said that KL Rahul has a niggle. If you have a niggle, don’t pick him in the squad. If a player is not fit during selection, you shouldn’t pick him. That was our policy. On the day of selection, if a player is not fit, don’t select him,” said Srikkanth on his official YouTube channel.
“If you want to pick him for the World Cup, select him for the World Cup. That’s a different issue. Now they are saying that he might play after a couple of matches and that’s why we have picked Sanju Samson as a travelling reserve. What’s all this.”
Agarkar confident of Rahul’s fitness
Chief selector Agarkar insisted in the press conference following the announcement of the squad that Rahul will be returning to full-fitness. After the Asia Cup, India are also scheduled to play three ODIs against Australia.
“From what we have been told it should not be too bad (in Rahul’s case). We still have one month and a half before World Cup, hopefully, they (Iyer and Rahul) will get enough cricket before that,” he said.
Currently, Ishan Kishan is the second-choice wicketkeeper-batter and is likely to be part of the playing XI in India’s opener against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Asia Cup.