New Delhi,22 August: Ending all speculations about their fitness K.L Rahul and Shreyas Iyer along with rookie left-hander Tilak Verma on Monday were selected in the 17-member India's ODI squad for the Asia Cup which starts on 30th August.
Seasoned leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal was axed from the squad, as spinners Kuldeep Yadav and spinning allrounders in Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel were included in the squad announced by the BCCI's senior selection committee chairman Ajit Agarkar here.
The pace department looks solid with the return of Jasprit Bumrah. He along with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj will lead the pace attack assisted by Prasidh Krishna, and allrounders Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur.
The team; Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-capt), Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan (wk), Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna. Reserve player: Sanju Samson
Interestingly Wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson will be a back-up for Rahul after the latter developed a niggle recently. "It is not the original injury. There is a niggle. That is why Sanju is travelling (to Sri Lanka). We are expecting Rahul to be fit. If not the start of Asia cup may be by the second or the third game. Shreyas Iyer is fully fit," Agarkar told media persons after announcing the squad.
Rahul has not played any competitive game since he suffered injury during IPL 2023, while Shreyas has been out of action since Australia's tour of India in March. " While Shreyas was passed fully fit, there was still a question mark over Rahul. 'admitted Agarkar
"Both are coming off long-term serious injuries. Shreyas has been declared completely fit. Rahul, not his original injury but there's a niggle, which is why Sanju is travelling," Agarkar said. "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."
Talking about Tilak Verma's selection, the chief selector said "In West Indies, we saw some real promise in terms of not just performances but the temperament," Agarkar said of Tilak's selection. "And it gives us an opportunity to take him with the team, give him some more exposure; a left-hander again, looks very promising. So fortunately, we can take 17 here, it'll be 15 at the World Cup. So, when the time comes, we'll take that decision, but at the moment it at least gives the coach and captain an opportunity to have him with the squad."
Ishan Kishan was preferred over Sanju Samson as the second wicketkeeper after Rahul, with the left-hand batter doubling up as a reserve opener. Samson, however, will accompany the team as a back-up player. "We've picked these 18 guys. It'll be in and around these guys [for the World Cup squad]," Agarkar said adding . "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."
Rohit Sharma who was present at the press conference made a significant statement "One thing I want in this team is to make sure everyone is okay to bat anywhere, You need flexibility, guys who can step up at any position. No one should say, 'I'm good at this position or I'm good at that position'. You want guys to be able to bat anywhere, that's the message conveyed to every individual. Not now, but over the last three-four years.
" I know it's tough for guys on the outside to understand why a guy who bats at six is batting at four, but the message has been given. You don't want to be handicapped or stuck with one player batting in one position. Having said that, you want to get the best out of players in certain positions. All seven-eight [positions] are open to anyone, that's the message we have sent out for so many years now." he added
About the non-inclusion of Chahal, Captain Rohit Sharma said " No doors are closed on anyone. Anyone can come in anytime. If we feel like we need Chahal for the World Cup, we'll see how we can squeeze him in, same goes for Washington Sunder or Ashwin
The Asia Cup starts on August 30 with Pakistan hosting Nepal in Multan. India's first Group A game is against Pakistan in Pallekele on September 2, they play Nepal at the same venue on September 4.
Group B comprises Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka and the top two teams from each group will progress to the Super Four stage. The sides that finish one and two in the Super Fours will contest the final in Colombo on September 17.
All of India's matches will be played in Sri Lanka while tournament host Pakistan will play four games at home.