National selectors on Saturday announced the squad for the upcoming Asia Cup, to be played in UAE, with Virat Kohli rested following a straining tour of England. In his absence, Rohit Sharma will lead the side. The tournament gets underway on September 15 with the final to be played on September 28 and features Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan and a qualifier. India play their first match on September 18, just a week after the last day of fith Test against England.
The 16-member squad includes Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav who have been brought in while Suresh Raina, Umesh Yadav and Siddarth Kaul, who all found a place in the squad for England ODI series, are among ones to miss out.
Kohli’s workload was on selectors MSK Prasad-led selection panel’s mind which now has five members following Jatin Paranjape and Gagan Khoda’s return. Before the England series, Kohli had missed his Surrey County stint due to a neck injury. Then, during the second Test at Lord’s, the India captain suffered a lower-back strain. At the Nidahas Trophy in Sri Lanka, between India’s tour of South Africa and the IPL, the selectors decided to send a second-string side.
“Considering the workload we have given Virat Kohli rest. He has been playing continuously for quite some time. We need to preserve some of our precious players who are playing all 3 formats, looking at that workload we have started with Virat and he will be rested for Asia Cup,” said the selectors.
India’s middle order remains unsettled and continues to be the problem with the World Cup in England fast approaching. Ambati Rayudu’s Man of the Match performance against Australia A has brought him back into the setup having initially lost his place for failing the mandatory Yo-Yo Test. Suresh Raina has not been brought in after being unable to make a mark in the 50-over format in England.
In the bowling department, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back into the fold having aggravated his lower-back injury during the third England ODI at Leeds. It ruled him out of the Test series against England. After a period of rehabilitation, Kumar has now returned to competitive cricket, claiming 3/33 against South Africa A. Jasprit Bumrah will give him company in the seam bowling department having recovered from a fractured thumb and returning to the Test team in the fourth match being played in Southampton.
Kedar Jadhav has recover from the hamstring injury he had picked during the IPL and is back into the squad. MS Dhoni will once again be the lead choice behind the stumps with Dinesh Karthik taking the reserve spot.
The squad also includes 20-year-old pacer Khaleel Ahmed from Rajasthan who has earned his maiden India call-up while Mayank Agarwal’s wait continues despite rich vein of form. “Yes there are 2-3 slots that we are yet to finalise. One is a left-handed seamer’s slot where we are looking at Khaleel. So for those spots we will be trying and we will look at these 24 matches. As we move closer towards World Cup, you guys will come to know,” said MSK Prasad after announcing the squad.
India squad for Asia Cup 2018: Rohit Sharma (C), Shikhar Dhawan (VC) , KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed.