KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have been included in India squad for the upcoming Asia Cup, the Board of Control for Cricket in India selection committee announced on Monday.
Former India pacer Ajit Agarkar, now the chairman of selectors, announced a 17-member team for the Asia Cup that is set to begin on August 30 and will be hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
India’s first match of the campaign will be against rivals Pakistan, at the Pallekele International Stadium in Sri Lanka on August 2.
Rahul and Iyer have spent a significant amount of time sidelined due to a thigh and back injury respectively. While Rahul picked up his injury during the 2023 Indian Premier League season, Iyer has not played a competitive match since Australia toured India in March.
Both have reportedly been undergoing rehabilitation and training at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for weeks.
“Both are coming off long-term serious injuries,” said Agarkar in a press conference. “Shreyas has been declared completely fit. Rahul, not his original injury but there’s a niggle, which is why Sanju [Samson] is travelling [as a reserve player]. We’ll get a report from the physio at some stage but we all expect him to be fit. If not at the start, by the second or third game, but he’s on track. Shreyas has been passed fit, which is good news for us.”
Tilak Varma, who impressed in the Twenty20 series against the West Indies, has been called up to the ODI squad for the first time.
Rohit Sharma will lead the team that also includes the likes of Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill, vice-captain Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
Jasprit Bumrah, who recently made a comeback in the ongoing tour in Ireland, returns to the squad after recovering from back surgery. He will be expected to lead the pace attack that includes Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami – the latter being rested for the tour of West Indies.
Pandya and Shardul Thakur will also be available to assist the pace line-up as all-rounders.
With Rahul back in the team, he will be expected to take up wicket-keeping duties. His back up will be Ishan Kishan, who can also come in as an opening option. Meanwhile, Sanju Samson will serve as a reserve player in the team.
India, six time champions in the One-Day International format of the Asia Cup – which will be used for the 2023 edition – will be looking to use the campaign to build momentum ahead of the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
Agarkar also added that a majority of the squad for the World Cup will be the same that will be competing at the Asia Cup.
“It’ll be in and around these guys [for the World Cup squad],” he said. “A few important guys coming back from injury, hopefully all goes well with them. They have a few games now at the Asia Cup. There’s a short camp [in Bengaluru] followed by a couple of games before we announce the World Cup squad, but it’s quite obvious it’ll be around these guys.”
India squad for the Asia Cup
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (Vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna
Reserve player: Sanju Samson