In a crucial stage of their recovery journey back to the Indian cricket team, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer have embarked on match simulation training sessions at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru. These training sessions mark the final strides in their comeback from respective injuries (thigh for Rahul and back for Iyer), culminating in a series of practice games to assess their progress.
KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer
Throughout this week, we anticipate Rahul and Iyer will actively engage in this training regimen. The purpose of this endeavor is to offer the national selectors a first-hand understanding of their performance in a match-like environment, just before they announce India’s Asia Cup squad, which they anticipate disclosing by August 20.
As the fifth T20I against West Indies concluded, head coach Rahul Dravid shared insights in Florida, expressing, “We have a few guys coming back from injuries in any case. We are going to have to give them opportunities to play [in the Asia Cup]. I haven’t really thought about the Asia Cup at this stage. We have a one-week camp in Bengaluru from August 23. We’ll be assembling there as a one-day team. We will take it as it comes.”
Notably, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) issued a media statement confirming Iyer and Rahul’s resumption of batting practice and fitness drills in the preceding month. ESPNcricinfo indicates that the postponement of the Asia Cup squad announcement is a strategic measure to allow selectors an extended period to assess the duo’s progress, enhancing their chances of featuring in the tournament, which is, in many aspects, a trial run for the forthcoming World Cup in October-November.
Leading up to the tournament in Sri Lanka, where India’s Asia Cup journey begins on September 2 against Pakistan, the players selected for the Asia Cup squad, along with the reserves, will undergo a comprehensive conditioning camp in Bengaluru from August 23 to 29.
Does the Asia Cup Squad Predict the World Cup Squad?
The selectors see the Asia Cup as an unofficial cutoff for World Cup team selection, but exceptions might occur due to the three ODIs against Australia preceding the World Cup campaign. Currently, the BCCI must reveal a preliminary World Cup squad by September 5, with the flexibility to make revisions until September 27, the day of the final ODI against Australia.
Among the quartet of players making a comeback, KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, along with Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna, stand out.
The selectors have included the latter duo in the Ireland tour lineup for three T20Is scheduled from August 18 to 23.
If KL Rahul regains full fitness, he will become India’s primary choice as the ODI wicketkeeper and is likely to slot into the middle order, alongside Shreyas Iyer, known for his prowess at No. 4.
In Iyer’s absence, the selectors experimented with various alternatives, such as Suryakumar Yadav, Sanju Samson, and Axar Patel, during the recent ODI series in the Caribbean.
Iyer’s last competitive appearance dates back to the fourth Border-Gavaskar Test against Australia in March, after which he underwent a back surgery in London, causing him to miss the entire IPL season. His initial return for the Ireland T20Is was postponed following a recommendation by the NCA staff for an extended rehabilitation period.
KL Rahul’s injury setback emerged towards the later stages of IPL 2023 when he sustained a tendon tear in his right thigh while fielding. Like Iyer, Rahul also underwent surgery in the UK and has been undergoing rehabilitation at the NCA over the past two months.
Prasidh Krishna and Jasprit Bumrah’s Ireland Venture
Prasidh Krishna and Jasprit Bumrah underwent analogous match simulation drills orchestrated by the NCA staff in the preceding month as their final preparation phase ahead of squad selection for the Ireland tour. Recently, Prasidh participated in the Maharaja T20 Cup, representing Mysuru Warriors—a significant milestone as his first high-level appearance in almost a year.
Both players have now been integrated into the squad that is preparing to depart for Ireland, where they will participate in the upcoming T20Is.