The jigsaw puzzle of Rohit Sharma led India’s batting-order is going to continue in the Asia Cup 2023 and just a month out from the World Cup 2023, India still won’t have their first-choice batting line-up, at least for the first couple of games in the Asia Cup.
This is because wicket-keeper KL Rahul, who is the designated number 5 batsman in the ODI team, has been ruled out from India’s first two games of the continental tournament against Pakistan and Nepal, on September 2 and 4 in Kandy. While Rahul has recovered from the thigh injury, he’s picked up a “minor niggle” and will not fly to Sri Lanka until September 3.
This means that Ishan Kishan, who is in the 17-man squad, will come into the side – Sanju Samson is the traveling reserve and is not in the squad. Only if KL Rahul is ruled out for the entire tournament, then Samson would be drafted in.
The issue for captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid is that Ishan’s success, and his performances have come as an opener – be it his double century last year in Bangladesh, or the 3 half-centuries in West Indies. So to include Ishan Kishan in the XI, India might have to push the other three batters one spot down.
This is what has been hinted in the latest match practice of captain Rohit Sharma.
India are currently undergoing a 6-day camp in Alur in Bangalore, where for the last three days they have been doing match simulations, giving the batters and bowlers different match scenarios to play in practice.
Rohit Sharma bats alongside Shreyas Iyer in match simulation after news of KL Rahul’s injury
On Tuesday, Rohit Sharma was seen batting with Shreyas Iyer. Iyer, who is now fit and will play in the Asia Cup, was the designated number 4 batsman.
However, now with KL Rahul injured and Ishan Kishan likely to come in the side as an opener, this could mean that Rohit Sharma will push himself to number 3, Virat Kohli will go down to number 4, and Shreyas Iyer will bat at number 5, followed by the two all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja.
Another combination India could use against Pakistan and Nepal is to slot Rohit Sharma at number 4 and Iyer at 5 while retaining Virat Kohli’s position at number 3, something which Aakash Chopra also suggested recently after the calls of Ravi Shastri and ABD de Villiers to make Kohli bat at number 4.
It would be interesting to see what batting order India employ against Pakistan and Nepal.