The Board of Control for Cricket (BCCI) today announced the 17-player Team India squad for the Asia Cup 2023. The Asia Cup which starts on the 30th of August is going to be jointly hosted in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The announcement was made, following a press conference addressed by Chief Selector Ajit Agarkar and Team India captain Rohit Sharma in Delhi.
The released squad paves the way for a comeback for KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer into the squad after a long few months outside the squad due to serious injuries. The squad also sees fast-bowler Prasidh Krishna coming back into the ODI format after marking his return from injury in the Ireland series. Meanwhile, the southpaw, Tilak Verma has earned his maiden ODI call and Kuldeep Yadav has been selected as India’s only wrist spinner. Ishan Kishan was chosen over Sanju Samson as the second wicketkeeper in the squad, behind Rahul, with the left-hand batter doubling up as a reserve opener. Samson, however, will travel to Sri Lanka as a backup player.
The 17-player squad is as follows: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice-capt), Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan (wk), Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna.
However, this squad raises more questions than what it solves. For example, this squad will raise a very important question about whether Shikhar Dhawan will ever be able to comeback into the squad after being seemingly abandoned by the BCCI and selectors in spite of having better figures and having played well in the IPL than many players in the squad and having a reputation in the ODIs which precede him.
This squad also raises the question of whether it is a mistake of bringing Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul into the squad directly for the Asia Cup instead of testing them out in the West Indies series or the Ireland series like they did with many of the players in the squad. While it is a good decision of bringing KL Rahul into the squad as a wicket-keeper, it must be taken care of that he does not face any sudden increase in his workload which might increase the chance of him getting injured again.
Another question that arises is the sudden inclusion of Tilak Verma in the ODI format who has not yet made his ODI debut. Verma, who has in all probabilities has been selected in place of Shikhar Dhawan is another decision that can come back and trouble Team India, who had a pretty good and stable ODI line-up which was disturbed by injuries and poor selection strategy by the board of selectors and the BCCI.
This squad has also somewhat confirmed that this is also the end of the road for Ravichandran Ashwin in the ODI format after having been left out of the ODI squad of the series against West Indies. The exclusion of Yuzi Chahal has also left me confused about whether he will be a part of the World Cup squad which is the ultimate goal.
The biggest problem with the squad is that it does not give us a good idea of which players will be the final contenders for the World Cup squad which should’ve happened by now, considering that the World Cup is hardly one to two months away. The biggest reasons for us not having a stable squad are the poor selection decisions made in the past and the unnecessary need of the selectors to experiment when the actual need of the hour is stability and consistency.