Despite not having played competitive cricket since May of this year, KL Rahul has been included in India’s ODI World Cup squad.
After passing a fitness assessment at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru on September 4, Rahul, India’s first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman in the format, is presently preparing to travel to Sri Lanka for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup.
Tilak Varma, a batsman in the middle order, and Prasidh Krishna, a fast bowler, are the two players from Sri Lanka’s current squad of 17 who did not qualify for the Asia Cup. Sanju Samson, a reserve player, was also left out.
Ishan Kishan has retained his position as the squad’s other wicketkeeper-batsman. September 2 in Pallekele, India’s Asia Cup opener against Pakistan was postponed due to drizzle. Kishan led the team in scoring with 82 runs, his fourth consecutive ODI half-century.
Despite Kishan’s form increasing the likelihood of him playing as a specialist middle-order batsman, the selectors also included Suryakumar Yadav in the 15 – Suryakumar, a T20 juggernaut, has middling ODI numbers, an average of 24.22 with two half-centuries in 24 innings, and has admitted that he cannot quite master the 50-over game.
Having last played an ODI in March of this year, Rahul tore a tendon in his right quadriceps during the IPL and required surgery in May.
After extensive rehabilitation at the NCA, he was selected for the Asia Cup squad, but missed the first two matches due to a fresh injury.
Ajit Agarkar, India’s chief selector, stated in a press conference, “We had a few fitness concerns that we had to address, but all three [Rahul, Jasprit Bumrah, and Shreyas Iyer] who had sustained long-term injuries have recovered.”
“KL is in excellent condition. We believe this affords us the greatest opportunity to succeed. With KL, he attended the camp in Bangalore, where he appeared to be in excellent condition; he has recovered from his injury.
Over the past two days, he participated in several events. I believe he held wicket for roughly 50 overs and also batted for roughly 50 overs, so he looks fine and we’re glad to have him.”
Last week, Rahul Dravid was pleased with Rahul’s rehabilitation and explained that India was adopting a “slightly more cautious approach” with him. Since then, Rahul has been at the NCA working with chief physio Nitin Patel, and on Monday he participated in a match simulation to assess his level of preparedness.
Bumrah will head the pace attack, which consists of Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, and Shardul Thakur.
Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja are the left-arm spin-bowling all-rounders, while Kuldeep Yadav is the premier wrist-spinner. The team lacks a specialist off-spinner.
Given that both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel rotate the ball toward left-handed batters, discussions are inevitable, according to Agarkar.
“However, both give us batting versatility. Kuldeep retrieves the ball. In 50-over cricket, an off-spinner may be preferable, but this lineup provides the greatest balance.
In ODIs, seamers bowl significantly more than in T20s, and perhaps you’re a little more under duress if you don’t have an off-break bowler, so we’re content with the bowlers we have.
The deadline for submitting the World Cup squad to the ICC is September 5, but countries are permitted to make adjustments until September 28 without ICC approval.
This provides India three additional One-Day Internationals against Australia after the Asia Cup, giving players like Rahul and Iyer additional game time. India will kick off its World Cup campaign on October 8 against Australia in Chennai.
Indian Cricket Team Squad for World Cup
Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (vice-capt), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj