Men in Blue will start their Asia Cup campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on September 2, Saturday in Kandy. Their second group match will be against Nepal on September 4, Monday. Earlier on Tuesday, India head coach Rahul Dravid confirmed that India’s wicketkeeper-batter KL Rahul will not play in the first two group matches of the Asia Cup 2023.
The NCA will be looking after him for the next few days while we are traveling. We will reassess on 4th September and take it from there. But the signs are looking good. However, Rahul will be unavailable for the first two games, Dravid said. This implies Rahul will be eligible only if India advances to the Super 4 level. Ishan Kishan is set to play as the keeper-batter against Pakistan and Nepal.
We are hoping that it’s just two games that Rahul misses and should be available for the latter part of the tour, there is an Australian series as well. I’m not too worried about it. Rahul is an experienced player and he can make a good comeback, Dravid added. Rahul’s absence from the first two games will present interesting selection dilemmas for captain Rohit Sharma and Dravid.
Rahul’s availability is critical for India’s balance. He not only guards the wicket but also bats at the critical No.5 position. Sanju Samson is traveling as a backup, but Kishan is expected to wear the gloves. It will be fascinating to watch where the left-hander bats in such instances. If they elect to start with Ishan and Rohit, Shubman Gill will have to drop. Perhaps even Virat Kohli.