Many fans must have been left surprised when KL Rahul walked out at the toss on Thursday evening in Dubai when India took on Afghanistan for their last Super 4 encounter in the Asia Cup 2022.
Rahul, the designated vice-captain of the side, captained India instead of their regular skipper Rohit Sharma against Afghanistan.
Afghanistan skipper Mohammad Nabi won the toss and elected to field first.
Here is why Rohit Sharma didn’t play against Afghanistan:
India’s regular captain Rohit Sharma was rested for the Afghanistan game along with Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal, KL Rahul confirmed at the toss.
This game is a dead rubber for both the teams: both India and Afghanistan were knocked out of the race to the final in the Asia Cup 2022 after Pakistan and Sri Lanka qualified for the final with Pakistan’s win in Sharjah over Afghanistan on Wednesday.
Since there’s nothing to play for in terms of the Asia Cup, India decided to rest their key players in Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya and Chahal and also this gives an opportunity to give more game time to the benched players.
In the previous game against Sri Lanka, Rohit scored 72 runs off 41 balls, spending 70 minutes in the middle in the heat of Dubai. So, perhaps that’s another reason to rest him from a dead rubber.
“Rohit wants to take a break, playing back-to-back is not easy in these conditions,” KL Rahul said about Rohit being rested.
Replacing the trio came in Deepak Chahar, Axar Patel and Dinesh Karthik. This is the first match of the Asia Cup 2022 for Chahar and Axar, the pair who were in the reserves and then replaced Avesh Khan and Ravindra Jadeja, respectively, in the squad after the duo was ruled out because of illness and injury respectively.
KL Rahul said: “We want to challenge ourselves as a batting unit. Rohit wants to take a break, playing back-to-back is not easy in these conditions. Yuzi (Chahal), Rohit and Hardik miss out. Chahar, Karthik and Axar come in. Even coming into this tournament, we had the T20 World Cup in mind. It’s a good learning for us to play such a tournament before the World Cup. We have learnt a few things from the losses. Trying to finalise the roles that each individual will play in the World Cup.”
Here are the playing XI of both teams:
India (Playing XI): KL Rahul(c), Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant(w), Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Deepak Chahar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Arshdeep Singh
Afghanistan (Playing XI): Hazratullah Zazai, Rahmanullah Gurbaz(w), Ibrahim Zadran, Najibullah Zadran, Mohammad Nabi(c), Karim Janat, Rashid Khan, Azmatullah Omarzai, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Fareed Ahmad Malik, Fazalhaq Farooqi