Long batting practice sessions, part of the game simulation, intense goalkeeping practice — all of this gave hope that BCCI selector Ajit Agaka’s revelations a week ago would be proven wrong, while KL pulled Hull, who will be recovering from a fresh injury blow, will be part of India’s eleven for the Continental Championships just days before his selection for the Asian Cup. It is believed that talk of Plan B has been rendered irrelevant based on footage from India’s Alur training camp broadcast on Star Sports. But Agaka is right. After the training camp on Tuesday, India head coach Rahul Dravid reiterated what the chairman of the Election Commission said in New Delhi a week ago. Despite his improved performances, Rahul was left out of the Asian Cup group stage as a “precautionary” measure due to the upcoming ODI World Cup in a month’s time.
Rahul, who was initially sidelined for the 2023 IPL with a hamstring injury, will not travel with India to Sri Lanka on Wednesday, but will head to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, where he will train with physios. Strive to “fully adapt” to the semi-finals of the Asian Cup. The goalkeeper batsman will also undergo a fitness test on September 4 before being notified to travel to Sri Lanka.
While Dravid admitted he was “not too concerned”, Rahul’s absence has created a series of questions and selection conundrums for India’s 11-man squad for the Asian Cup. India do have a similar replacement in Ishan Kishan, which arguably shouldn’t be a cause for concern, but the question has to do with his batting position in the lineup and the rest of the batting order afterwards.
With just three days left until India’s starting line-up is confirmed for their opening match against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Paleklai International Stadium, we take a look at what could happen in the absence of Rahul…
- If Ishan Kishan opens…: Gill, who can hit third, has played just four times in his ODI career, hitting 130 against Zimbabwe last year. Kohli could then occupy the fourth spot, which the likes of Ravi Shastri and AB de Villiers have suggested recently, meaning Shreas Iyer will either miss out for Surya Kumar. Yadav’s strong fifth option, either batting in that position, has also played nine games there himself, scoring three half-century goals. Another possibility is that Iyer and Kohli remain third and fourth respectively, with Gill giving way to Suryakumar in fifth.
- If Ishan Kishan hits No. 3…: He’s done it four times in his career so far, two in his fifties. This means Kohli is fourth and Iyer fifth.
- If Ishan Kishan hits No. 4…: He has batted as many times in the position as he has opened for India but averaged just 21, scoring 106 runs in half-century. This means that Kohli will retain his original spot, while Ayer may give up one.
- How about Tri-State Samson? : The thorniest question is whether India will risk playing Ishan Kishan at No. 5 (he has never played so far) or use Samson (who has been drafted for travel) Substitute to keep Rahul’s question in mind). Samson has hit outside the top four nine times, averaging 52 at No. 5 and 90 at No. 6, scoring 50 points apiece .