Cricket

Ishan To Open, Kohli At No. 4, Gill…: What Are India’s Likely Scenarios With Kl Rahul Out Of Asia Cup Group Stage?

A look at the possible scenarios as to how India can put their batting order in the first two matches in Asia Cup with KL Rahul ruled out.

The extended sessions of batting practice, being part of match simulations, the intense wicketkeeping drills – all gave hopes that BCCI selector Ajit Agarkar’s revelation from a week back would turn out to be wrong and that KL Rahul would battle out from the fresh injury blow, incurred just days before his Asia Cup selection, and make himself available to be part of India’s XI for the continental tournament. The belief was such, courtesy of the footages shown by Star Sports from India’s training camp in Alur, that the discussion on a Plan B for became inconsequential. But Agarkar was right. After the conclusion of the camp on Tuesday, India head coach Rahul Dravid reiterated what the chairman of selectors had said a week back in New Delhi. Rahul, despite showing improvements, was ruled out of the group-stage matches in Asia Cup as a “precautionary” measure with the ODI World Cup a month away.

Read More: No Immediate Return For Jasprit Bumrah In Asia Cup? Rahul Dravid Explains Plan For Pacer

Rahul, who was initially out with a hamstring injury incurred during IPL 2023, will not be travelling with the Indian team to Sri Lanka on Wednesday and will head to the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru where he will work with the physios in a bid to become “fully fit” for the Super Four stage of Asia Cup. The wicketkeeper-batter will also undergo a fitness test on September 4 before a call is taken on his Sri Lanka travel.

Although Dravid confessed that he is “not too worried about it”, Rahul’s absence opens up a host of questions and selection headaches pertaining to India’s playing XI for the Asia Cup. India do have a like-for-like replacement in Ishan Kishan which supposedly should not raise a concern, but the questions pertains to his batting position in the line-up and subsequently what the rest of the batting order would look like.

Read More: “Talking To Dravid, Rohit, Virat But…”: Suryakumar Yadav On Odi Struggles

With India just three days away from figuring out their XI for the opener against arch-rivals Pakistan at the Pallekele International Stadium, we look at the possible scenarios with Rahul out…

  1. If Ishan Kishan opens…: Gill could bat at No. 3, where he played only four times in his ODI career and scored 130 against Zimbabwe in a match last year. Kohli could then take the No. 4 spot, which the likes of Ravi Shastri and AB de Villiers had recently suggested, implying that Shreyas Iyer will either miss out to make way for a potent No. 5 option in Suryakumar Yadav or bat at that position himself, where he has played nine times, scoring three half-centuries. The other possibility is if Iyer and Kohli remain as No. 3 and 4 respectively while Gill makes way for Suryakumar at No. 5.
  2. If Ishan Kishan bats at No. 3…: He has done it four times in his career so far with two fifties. This would mean, Kohli at No. 4 and Iyer at No. 5.
  3. If Ishan Kishan bats at No. 4…: He has batted at that position as many times as he has opened for India, but with an average of only 21, scoring 106 runs with one half-century. This would imply Kohli will retain his usual spot while Iyer could bat one down the order.
  4. What about Sanju Samson?: The toughest question is whether India would risk playing Ishan Kishan at No. 5, where he has never batted so far, or will they make use of Samson, who has been picked as a travelling reserve keeping Rahul’s niggle in mind. Samson has batted nine times outside the top 4 with an average of 52 at No. 5 and 90 at No. 6 , scoring a fifty each.

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