With the commencement of the ACC Men's Asia Cup quick approaching, there is an increasing sense of feeling that star batters – KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer – may not return to international action in time for the event.
The Asia Cup is set to kick off on August 30, with India's first game scheduled to be played on September 2 against arch-rivals Pakistan. The official squads are likely to be announced in the coming days as the start of the tournament inches closer.
Both Rahul and Iyer have been out of cricketing action for quite some time now. Rahul picked up an injury during this year's edition of the Indian Premier League in Lucknow Super Giants' home game against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Ekana Stadium, Lucknow.
In an attempt to stop a boundary, he suffered from a tendon tear in his right thigh, as a result of which he did not take any further part in the tournament. He went on to miss the IPL as well as the World Test Championship 2021-23 Final at The Oval.
On the other hand, Shreyas Iyer was a victim of recurring back-related issues. In April, he had undergone a successful back surgery in London after the problem had aggravated to an extent that left him with no option but to opt for this route.
Both Rahul and Iyer last played an international game in March, the former during India's ODI series against Australia, while the latter during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against the same opposition.
Options if Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are not fit for the Asia Cup
The duo offered India immense stability in the middle order. Under normal circumstances, they would have been confirmed starters for India at the Asia Cup. In their absence, however, the Indian management might have to slot in the likes of Suryakumar Yadav and Sanju Samson, both inconsistent in the format.
Unfortunately for India, Yadav has failed to make a significant impact in ODI cricket. After a blistering start to his ODI career, things seem to have gone wrong for him in the format. 6 innings into his ODI career, he averaged a whopping 65.25 and struct at a very impressive 104.
In the next 18 innings, he was dismissed for a single-digit score on nine occasions, including a hattrick of ducks against Australia earlier this year. He also managed to cross the 30-run mark just thrice in the same period. Although Yadav is a proper force to reckon with in T20 cricket, he has failed to make a similar impact in 50-over cricket.
The other batter India is likely to include in their Asia Cup plans is Samson, who currently averages over 55 in ODIs, and scored a brilliant fifty in India's last ODI against West Indies. With Samson comes intent and fearless cricket, but with him also comes inconsistency.
The other dilemma that India will be facing would be regarding Ishan Kishan's batting position. The left-handed batter has been in exceptional form lately, and made three consecutive fifties in the ODI series against West Indies. He averages over 46 with a strike rate of more than 107 in the format. Considering he has done this well as an opener, pushing him into the middle order would not do him justice.