Having concluded their Caribbean tour, the Indian cricket team now shifts its focus to the upcoming challenge in Sri Lanka and then World Cup 2023.
The Asia Cup 2023, set to kick off in August, will see India facing arch-rivals Pakistan and other sub-continent cricket powerhouses.
The tournament, acting as a precursor to the ICC World Cup 2023 in India, is a vital stepping stone for teams to fine-tune their strategies. However, as India prepares to host the Asia Cup, the squad faces the challenge of finding the right balance amidst ongoing uncertainties.
The overriding factor complicating matters is the players' injuries. While the fitness of Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna has been confirmed, doubts surround the availability of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who are vigorously rehabilitating at the National Cricket Academy.
Rahul and Iyer have to undergo several tests beforeWorld Cup 2023
According to sources reported by PTI, the national selection committee, led by Ajit Agarkar, will only consider Rahul and Iyer if they pass the test of enduring the demands of 50-over cricket. This assessment requires them to undergo match simulations.
In the case of KL Rahul, the selectors aim to evaluate his readiness to keep wickets for a full 50 overs, a vital aspect to secure a spot in the World Cup squad. Similarly, Shreyas Iyer must prove his ability to remain on the field for the entire match duration to demonstrate match fitness.
Rishabh Pant, who is recovering from car crash injuries at the NCA, shared a video on Instagram that showcased Shreyas Iyer facing pacers confidently in the net, with KL Rahul on the non-striker's end.
Recent reports suggest that Rahul has successfully kept wickets for a full 50 overs, a crucial prerequisite for selection in the Indian World Cup squad. As the Asia Cup draws near and the squad announcement looms, the selection committee's priority remains ensuring Rahul and Iyer's optimal fitness.
“Keeping 50 overs in Sri Lankan heat would take a toll, and NCA can only give him a fit certificate if he is able to don the big gloves without any apparent discomfort. Also, they haven’t played anything and the first international game against Pakistan (on September 2) could be a bit too much of a pressure. But then time is of the essence,” stated a source, as reported by PTI.
Tilak Varma could be selected if Rahul and Iyer do not become fit in time
Amidst the uncertainty surrounding Rahul and Iyer's readiness, another name has gained traction following a remarkable debut in the Caribbean – Tilak Varma.
The selection committee is treading cautiously with respect to incorporating this emerging talent, acknowledging the need to protect young careers.
The source emphasized, “Yes, he has started well and he will surely play ODIs in the future. But what if he is pushed too quickly and it turns out to be counter-productive? You can’t play with young careers. Yes, he could be discussed but only if both Iyer and Rahul are ruled out.”
As India navigates the complexities of player fitness, the evolving narrative surrounding emerging talents and experienced players underscores the meticulous approach adopted by the selection committee.