Rohit will be part of the meeting where the selectors are also likely to register for the World Cup draft
Who will make the final cut in India’s Asia Cup squad?
Samson or Tilak Varma, Axar or Chahal? Will Suryakumar continue to get more opportunities?
Will KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah be on the plane to Sri Lanka for the Asia Cup? We will find out on Monday, August 21, when the senior men’s selection committee, chaired by Ajit Agarkar, convenes in New Delhi to pick the squad.
Rohit Sharma, the India captain, is understood to be participating in the meeting via video conference, along with SS Das, the selector on tour in Ireland with a second-tier team currently in the middle of a three-match T20I series.
Rohit’s inclusion is important as the selectors are also likely to enter the World Cup draft. While September 5 is the ICC deadline for submitting the draft squad, it is understood that the selection committee wants to pick the same 15 for both events as much as possible. The selected squad, along with some stand-by players, will assemble in Bengaluru for a six-day camp before leaving for Colombo.
The fitness status of Rahul and Iyer could be a major talking point as the BCCI awaits a final nod from the NCA. The duo is currently in Bangalore where they have undergone a series of match simulation exercises and practice matches to test their readiness for 50-over cricket.
Iyer is considered to have ticked most of the boxes in his first practice game earlier this week, where he batted for the entire 50 overs and hit for 38 without much trouble. The match was closely watched by NCA captain VVS Laxman and batting coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Rahul, who did not feature in that game, is expected to line up alongside Iyer for a second practice game on Sunday.
Rahul’s fitness is key for India to solve the wicketkeeper conundrum, especially with Rishabh Pant still recovering from injuries sustained during a serious car accident in December.
If picked, Rahul is likely to bat at No. 5 and keep the wicket. If not, Ishan Kishan is the frontrunner for the wicketkeeper role. Kishan’s selection could also lead to a bit of a shuffle in the batting order. It is something that many former cricketers, including former coach Ravi Shastri, feel strongly about.
Iyer, meanwhile, settles the crucial No.4 debate if he is fit. It’s a position that proved to be India’s bane in the 2019 World Cup when the MSK Prasad-led selection panel noted Vijay Shankar’s abilities over Ambati Rayudu, who was No.4 for much of the build-up of India. the tournament. Ultimately, Shankar’s injury paved the way for Pant’s belated inclusion in the team.
In Iyer’s absence, India recently tried Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson and Axar Patel at Caribbean No.4. Suryakumar, India’s T20I vice-captain, has admitted that he has not been able to make the most of his opportunities so far and the team management is believed to be testing him as a wicket-keeper.
Bumrah, meanwhile, opened India’s tour of Ireland with a match-winning effort in Dublin on Friday. Bumrah took 2 for 24. Both his knocks came on his debut after returning to international cricket after 11 months. Prasidh Krishna, another key bowler in India’s World Cup plans, also made a promising comeback and took two wickets.
India open their Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on September 2, before playing Nepal on September 4. Both matches will be played in Pallekele, with the top two teams in the group qualifying for the Super 4s, where they will play three more games.
After the Asia Cup, India will also play three ODIs at home against Australia before starting their World Cup campaign, also against Australia, on October 8 in Chennai.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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