KL Rahul’s return to the national squad might take some more time as the senior selection committee is likely to leave him out for the Asia Cup, while Shreyas Iyer’s return also hangs in the balance. The panel headed by Ajit Agarkar will meet in Delhi on Monday to pick the squad for the continental tournament.
Rahul underwent surgery on his right thigh a few months ago, while Iyer too went under the knife for a back injury. Both players have been trying hard to return to competitive cricket but it’s learnt that the selection committee will first assess their fitness reports. It’s the main reason it has summoned National Cricket Academy (NCA) head (sports science and medicine) Nitin Patel.
He will be providing fitness updates on Jasprit Bumrah, who is in Ireland now, and on Rahul and Iyer, followed by those on other players. The selectors want to understand whether Rahul and Iyer are match-fit and can come through 50-over games. In big matches, there’s a likelihood of a player pushing his body further due to greater intensity, and the panel wants to know whether that will have an impact post injury.
The Indian Express understands that the selection committee is not keen to have both these players thrown straight into high-level cricket like the Asia Cup without any preparatory games.
In the past, there has been an instance when a player broke down again just after returning to international cricket after injury. However, Iyer’s inclusion will also depend on what the Indian team management has in mind. The team doesn’t have a settled number four since he got injured despite trying Suryakumar Yadav at that spot in the West Indies.
Apart from the Rahul-Iyer conundrum, the selection committee will also discuss providing more spin bowling options to the team.
The current group of players has two left-arm spinners in Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel while chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav has cemented his place in the squad. The panel wants to add variety to the bowling attack and in such a scenario, off-spinner Washington Sundar could be a dark horse to be picked for the Asia Cup.
If Sundar is selected, leggie Yuzuvendra Chahal might have to make way. At the same time, the team management is also keen to have a long batting line-up and it’s the main reason more all-rounders are likely to be part of the team.
Bumrah to be Rohit’s deputy
The captain for the Ireland tour, Jasprit Bumrah might get the vice-captaincy for the Asia Cup. Hardik Pandya leads the T20I team and did so in two ODIs against the West Indies as well. However, it is learnt that Bumrah will be handed the vice-captain’s role for the continental event after the players and support staff in Ireland gave positive feedback about him.