Ajit Agarkar
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Last Update on: August 22nd, 2023 at 11:04 am

The India squad for Asia Cup 2023 was announced on Monday (August 21) and the selection panel has decided to take a big gamble. The Ajit Agarkar-led panel has picked KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer in the squad without testing their match fitness.

Both the batsmen are sidelined for quite some time now. Iyer has not played a competitive game since suffering a back injury during the Ahmedabad Test against Australia in March this year. The right-handed batsman also had to undergo surgery on his back in April.

Rahul, on the other hand, is out of action since May after he sustained a thigh injury while fielding during the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2023. He too had to undergo surgery on his thigh. And while both Iyer and Rahul have been seen practicing in nets, none of them have played any competitive game.

The Asia Cup will be their first competitive assignment since recovering from their respective injuries. Agarkar has already confirmed that Rahul is still carrying a niggle and is set to miss at least the first few games of the tournament. In Rahul’s absence, India are likely to rely on Sanju Samson during Asia Cup 2023.

“Shreyas (Iyer) has been declared completely fit. Rahul has got a niggle. It’s not his original injury but that’s why Sanju has been picked as backup. We are all expecting him to be fit if not at the start of the Asia Cup then maybe the second or third game.

“A bit of a setback for Rahul but Shreyas has been declared fully fit, that’s good news for us. They are two very important players for us. We still have time. We won’t be announcing our World Cup squad before the deadline of September 5,” said Agarkar.

Madan Lal slams selections for Asia Cup 2023:

While KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer’s return ahead of the World Cup is seen as a big boost for the Indian team, former India cricketer and World Cup winner Madan Lal is not too impressed with the calls. Expressing his disappointment over the calls, the former allrounder opined that Agarkar should have specified the new injury of KL Rahul.

“I don’t think the selectors and team management are still sure whether KL Rahul is fit or not. What injury or niggle? They should have specified that. They have kept Shreyas Iyer. There’s still no surety about his fitness. They haven’t played any competitive cricket. They should have been picked after they had proved their match fitness. Batting in the nets and batting in the middle are two different things,” he told Aaj Tak.

Madan Lal was also not impressed with the selectors’ calls to drop Yuzvendra Chahal. The leg-spinner was a part of the Indian team for the ODI series in West Indies last month but has failed to make it to the squad for Asia Cup 2023. With Chahal out, Kuldeep Yadav is the only wrist-spinner in the team.

“The thing that has surprised me the most is Yuzvendra Chahal’s absence. They said there should only be one wrist spinner. Chahal is a genuine wicket-taker and a match-winner. His absence was surprising.

“Yes, Axar Patel has done really well in the last two-three years. I’m not criticising him but you have Ravindra Jadeja to do what he does. You need wicket-takers if you want to win matches. Apart from Chahal’s absence and the inclusion of unfit players, the squad was largely on the expected lines,” he said.

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