KL Rahul, India’s wicketkeeper-batsman, will be absent for the first two matches of the 2023 Asia Cup, as confirmed by head coach Rahul Dravid. The tournament begins on September 2 with India facing Pakistan, followed by a Nepal match on September 4.
Dravid stated that although Rahul’s recovery is positive, he won’t be partaking in the initial games against Pakistan and Nepal, as conveyed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) through a tweet.
The announcement followed India’s training camp in Bengaluru’s Alur. During his absence, the National Cricket Academy (NCA) will supervise Rahul’s recovery while the team is on the move. Dravid added that they’ll assess his condition on September 4 before making further decisions. Despite Rahul’s progress, he won’t participate in the early matches.
Although Jasprit Bumrah and Shreyas Iyer are fully fit, KL Rahul encountered a fresh injury setback. Yet, the Indian team remains optimistic about his return during the Asia Cup’s Super 4 stage. Replacing Rahul as the wicketkeeper poses a selection challenge for Captain Rohit Sharma and Coach Rahul Dravid, given his role as wicketkeeper and No.5 batter.
While Sanju Samson is an option, Ishan Kishan will likely take up wicketkeeping, leading to a reshuffle in the batting order. Swapping Kishan and Rahul in the middle-order could resolve this, introducing a left-handed batter and altering the team dynamic. However, Kishan, primarily an opener, has struggled batting lower.
Opting for a Kishan-Rohit Sharma opening would require adjustments for Shubman Gill and possibly Virat Kohli. Former head coach Ravi Shastri had suggested Kohli batting at four, potentially disrupting India’s original order.
The much-anticipated Asia Cup 2023 begins with Pakistan vs. Nepal in Multan, accompanied by an opening ceremony. Transitioning from last year’s T20 format, this year’s Asia Cup reverts to the 50-over format, serving as vital preparation for the World Cup in India in October. The top two teams from each group advance to the Super Four, with the top two competing in the final on September 17 in Colombo. Matches and the opening ceremony will be broadcast on Star Sports and Disney+ Hotstar.