Asia Cup 2023 will begin on 30th August, with hosts Pakistan set to face off against Nepal in Multan. The Indian squad for the tournament has been announced. The following 17 players are on the list:
- Rohit Sharma (Captain)
- Shubman Gill
- Ishanvira Kishan (Wicket-keeper)
- Virat Kohli
- Shreyas Iyer
- KL Rahul (Wicket-keeper)
- Tilak Varma
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Hardik Pandya (Vice captain)
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Axar Patel
- Kuldeep Yadav
- Shardul Thakur
- Jasprit Bumrah
- Mohammed Shami
- Mohammed Siraj
- Prasidh Krishna
Besides the above players, Sanju Samson has been named as a reserve wicket-keeper.
Return of Key Players
Shreyas Iyer and Rahul have undergone rehab for several weeks at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. They have also undergone simulation exercises ahead of their selection for the Asia Cup competition. Rahul is yet to play any match any competitive game since sustaining his injury during the IPL 2023 tournament. Shreyas last played during Australia’s tour of India, five months ago. Agarkar has reported that Shreyas Iyer has recovered to full fitness. However, Rahul’s fitness is yet to be confirmed.
To add to the return of Iyer and Rahul, India have additional reason to celebrate. Another player returning from injury, Jaspreet Bumrah has made a great comeback to competitive cricket in the T20 series in Ireland. On the back of a showing on the tour, the selectors have included the fast bowler in the Asia Cup squad.
There are hardly any surprises in the selection of the batsmen. Tilak Varma is the sole exception. Varma found himself in the squad after his brilliant showing in his debut T20I series in the West Indies. According to Rohit Sharma, the batting positions are still open. Given the perception that India lack a reliable number four in the line-up, Sharma’s view is interesting. The Indian skipper says that every batsman should be comfortable batting at any position as required. However, Shreyas Iyer could be the perfect choice if he returns to full match fitness.
Leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal is a prominent name missing on the list. Kuldeep Yadav is the only other spinner in the squad apart from the left-arm spinner allrounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. Interestingly, there is no offspinner. According to skipper Rohit Sharma, the think tank considered including an offspinner as well. They had a couple of choices in R Ashwin and Washington Sundar. Rohit Sharma has not ruled out Chahal for inclusion in the squad for ODI World Cup to be held in October-November.
Among the pacemen, Shami, Siraj and Thakur selected themselves. However, Bumrah’s performance could be key to India’s fortunes.
Ishan Kishan has found favour over Sanju Samson as the back-up keeper for Rahul. However, Samson will travel with the team to the Asia Cup. Because of the question mark over Rahul’s fitness, the selectors have considered Sanju Samson as an additional back up keeper.
Asia Cup Final on 17 September
Pakistan and Nepal are drawn in group A along with India. India will play their first group game versus Pakistan on 2 September. That match will take place in Pallekele, which will also be the venue for India’s match against Nepal on 4 September. Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the three teams in group B. The teams that finish in the first two positions in each group will advance to a Super Four round-robin league. The teams that finish in the first and second positions in the Super Four will play in the final to be held in Colombo on 17 September.
Likely ODI World Cup Squad from Same Player Pool
According to Ajit Agarkar, the chairman of selectors, the squad for the World Cup is likely to revolve around the same set of players. Before the ODI World Cup, India will play an ODI series against Australia. The players will also take part in a preparatory camp in Bengaluru. After the Asia Cup gets over on 17 September, Australia will tour India to play a 3-ODI series. The matches will be held on September 22, 24 and 27 September, ahead of the ODI World Cup which set to begin on fifth October. The same player pool used for the Asia Cup is likely to be considered for the World Cup. However, the squad will be reduced to 15 for the ICC event.
On paper, the Indian team appears balanced, with strength in every area. However, India’s showing will largely hinge on the performance of the players returning from injury.