Uncertainty over KL Rahul’s fitness has delayed the naming of the India squad for the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. The national selectors are expected to pick the 15 members on Monday in New Delhi.
The Rahul Dravid-led team management is keen to draft Rahul though the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore is yet to clear him as “fit”. The wicketkeeper-batter had surgery on his thigh in June and hasn’t played a competitive match since.
Rahul played a practice tie on Friday but not all are convinced of his match fitness. He had earlier engaged in match simulation sessions at the NCA.
“He may be physically fit but his cricket fitness is yet to be ascertained. Whether he can live up to the rigours of the movements on the field and running between the wickets will determine his status. More importantly, we will have to see how he pulls up on the day after a match,” a source told The Telegraph.
Rahul is likely to play another practice match on Saturday or Sunday before the NCA takes a call on his fitness. The selectors too are waiting to hear from the NCA.
There is also a chance that Rahul could be included as a specialist batter at No.4 with Ishan Kishan performing the duties of a wicketkeeper. This is to give Rahul enough match practice ahead of the World Cup and lessen his workload.
Rahul has an encouraging record at No. 4 in ODIs, making 241 runs from 7 innings at an average of 40.17, including a hundred.
The NCA medical team is also learnt to be circumspect about giving him the green light in case he picks up another injury before the quadrennial showpiece event in October.
However, it is unlikely that Shreyas Iyer will be included in the Asia Cup squad. Iyer had undergone back surgery for a stress fracture but is still far from attaining full fitness.
If Rahul doesn’t make the squad, the selectors are likely to include both Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma. This will provide the side with back-ups ahead of the World Cup.
The team management is keen on trying Surya as a finisher at No.6. Surya hasn’t achieved success at No.4 or 5 and the think-tank feels he will be useful in the last 10 overs.
The selectors are likely to include four specialist spinners since the wickets will favour them.