Indian seniors KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have returned from their injuries to make the Asia Cup squad on Monday as the cricketing powerhouse fine tune for the upcoming ICC World Cup.
Both Rahul, who still carries a niggle, and Iyer made the 17-member squad, led by Rohit Sharma, for the six-nation Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and Pakistan beginning on 30 August.
“Shreyas has been declared completely fit. Rahul, not his original injury but there’s a niggle, which is why Sanju (Samson) is travelling (as reserve),” chief selector Ajit Agarkar told reporters in New Delhi.
“We’ll get a report from the physio at some stage but we all expect him (Rahul) to be fit. If not at the start, by the second or third game, but he’s on track.”
Rahul has not played any competitive cricket since he was injured during this year’s Indian Premier League. Iyer has been out since Australia’s tour of India in March.
Pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna, who returned after recovering from back injuries during the ongoing T20 series against Ireland, have been selected for the longer white ball format ahead of the World Cup in India from 5 October.
Up and coming left-hand batsman Tilak Varma, a 20-year-old who is yet to play a one-day international, has also been picked to boost India’s batting, which includes Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and vice-captain Hardik Pandya.
Rohit said the team will need its youngsters to be flexible.
“Flexibility is important,” Rohit said. “But we don’t go crazy. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (not in team) have opened for India in the last seven years. Kohli bats at three. New boys who bat at number four or five, they should be open to bat anywhere.”
India begin their Asia Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in Pallekele on September 2 before taking on minnows Nepal in their second outing.
“We will work on shortcomings in our upcoming five-day-long camp in Bangalore ahead of the Asia Cup,” said Rohit.
On the prospect of meeting Pakistan thrice in the tournament — including in the final — Rohit said: “It’s not just Pakistan, there are other teams.
“Sri Lanka won the Asia Cup (T20 format) last year. So there are other teams who are playing good cricket and will challenge us.”
India have suffered a world title drought since the 2013 Champions Trophy, and last won a 50-over World Cup on home soil in 2011.
Rohit played down his team’s chances in the tournament when it returns home.
“There is no such thing as favourites or underdogs,” Rohit said when asked whether India would be considered the team to beat in the World Cup.
He added, “As our prep is concerned this (Asia Cup) is the right tournament for us to go and perform well. Test ourselves, try and put ourselves under pressure and respond to that pressure.”
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna