Five-time champions India have rested regular skipper Virat Kohli as the selection committee led by MSK Prasad announced the Asia Cup squad in Mumbai on Saturday. Rohit Sharma will lead the squad as India continue to prepare for next year’s World Cup in England. Shikhar Dhawan has been named vice-captain while Khaleel Ahmed is the new face in the squad. Kedar Jadhav makes a comeback into the 16-member squad after recovering from a hamstring injury sustained during the Indian Premier League. Ambati Rayudu also finds a place in the team. Suresh Raina gets the axe having earlier replaced Rayudu for the England series.
In the case of Kohli, chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said that the skipper’s workload management is paramount as he had issues with back injury in the earlier Tests in England this summer. “Considering the workload, we have given him (Kohli) rest. He has been playing continuously for quite some time. He’s on the road from the IPL. So that is why looking at the workload we have given him rest,” Prasad said. The chairman said that all key players would be given rest and their workload closely monitored. “I will like to tell that I have been there from the third test match (in England). We sat for a discussion regarding the workload management so we need to preserve some of the precious players who are playing in all three formats. Looking at that workload issue we have started with Virat and he will be rested for the Asia Cup,” he added.
The selectors are desperate for some variety and after experiments with Jaydev Unadkat and Barinder Sran didn’t yield the desired results, they are now trying out Khaleel. “Yes there are 2-3 slots that we are yet to finalise. One is a left handed seamer’s slot where we are looking at Khaleel. “So for those spots we will be trying and we will look at these 24 matchens. As we move closer towards World Cup, you guys will come to know.” One of the heartbreaks could be opener Mayank Agarwal who has scored more runs across formats than anybody in Indian domestic cricket and A team matches. However, Prasad assured that his chance will come sooner than later. “Mayank Agarwal has been fantastic and has been consistent in the last 10-12 months. He is just a step away and I am sure in due course of time he will get his recognition,” he said. “And he did well In all three formats in whatever opportunities he has got in domestic cricket. We will definitely look at it when we rest some of the senior players,” Prasad assured.
The tournament starting September 15 features India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and one more team from the qualifiers. India are placed in Group A alongside Pakistan and the qualifying team. The Asia Cup returns to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and India will take on arch-rivals Pakistan on September 19 in Dubai. It is expected to be a sellout considering that the two teams last met in the final of the Champions Trophy in 2017.
SQUAD: Rohit Sharma(C), Shikhar Dhawan (VC), KL Rahul, AT Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Kartik, Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Y Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur and Khaleel Ahmed.
Asia Cup Schedule:
15 September – Bangladesh vs Sri Lanka (Dubai)
16 September – Pakistan vs Qualifier (Dubai)
17 September – Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi)
18 September – India vs Qualifier (Dubai)
19 September – India vs Pakistan (Dubai)
20 September – Bangladesh vs Afghanistan (Abu Dhabi)
21 September – Group A Winner vs Group B Runner-up (Dubai)
21 September – Group B Winner vs Group A Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)
23 September – Group A Winner vs Group A Runner-up (Dubai)
23 September – Group B Winner vs Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)
25 September – Group A Winner vs Group B Winner (Dubai)
26 September – Group A Runner-up vs Group B Runner-up (Abu Dhabi)
Final – 28 September (Dubai).