Even though a discussion in Star Sports, the official broadcasters for Asia Cup 2023 in India, last week revealed that KL Rahul’s fresh injury concern, picked up just days before his selection for the 17-member squad, wasn’t scary, BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar’s revelation came true. Post the announcement of the squad in New Delhi last week after long selection meeting in presence of India captain Rohit Sharma, Agarkar had revealed that Rahul will be missing the group-stage matches in the Asia Cup. On Tuesday, India head coach Rahul Dravid confirmed the same after India concluded their training camp in Alur, Karnataka, before lifting the lid over Shreyas Iyer’s availability for the tournament, as the star batter is also looking to make a comeback after a long injury lay off.
Iyer’s period away from the game has been longer than that of Rahul. Having incurred a lower back injury during the Border-Gavaskar series, just days after joining the squad owing to the same concern, Iyer did not just miss IPL 2023 season, but also the WTC final and the tour of West Indies, during which he had undergone a surgery and rehabilitated at the National Cricket Academy.
On Tuesday, as Dravid made the revelation on Rahul being ruled out of the matches against Pakistan and qualifier Nepal in Sri Lanka, slated to be held on September 2 and 4 respectively at the Pallekele International Stadium, media inquired about the availability of Iyer of the tournament. The batting legend responded with a positive reply and only looked forward to giving more game time in Asia Cup and the home series against Australia, that succeeds it, to build him up for the ODI World Cup.
“He has looked good. He has had no issues. It has been pretty straight-forward with him. He has come in and played. It is just now about us giving him game time. What is has actually missed is matches which he can hopefully give him in the Asia Cup and the Australia series to build him up for the World Cup. But in terms of fitness, he has done everything well in the camp. He has batted a lotm he has fielded. He has ticked all the boxes except of course the actual game time,” he said.
While Iyer is slated to resume his role as India No.4, the management are now to decide whether they play Ishan Kishan as the wicketkeeping option in Rahul’s stead, given he was the back-up choice, or will they utilise the services of Sanju Samson, who was picked a travelling reserve.