Even with less than six weeks until the 2023 ODI World Cup at home, the Indian cricket team are unsure of their starting XI. Experiments are progressing late, with the most debated point being an unsettled mean order. After a heavyweight in the top class, the middle class is wobbling for various reasons. Suryakumar Yadav has not performed well while Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul are back from injuries. Rookie Tilak Varma is untested in ODIs.
Indian cricket team coach Rahul Dravid said in his pre-Asia Cup press conference that team management had secured number four and number five spots for the ODI World Cup nearly 18 months ago, but soon threw up three batter injured followers a wrench.
Dravid said that recent injuries to players like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant have forced team management to try other mid-tier players and that it hasn't been experimenting just for the fun of it.
“Spots #4 and #5 are much debated and give the impression that we had no clarity as to who will be there. I could have told you 18-19 months ago who the three candidates for the two spots were.” Coach Rahul Dravid said.
“It was always between Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant. There was no doubt,” Dravid said at India's pre-Asia Cup press conference.
“It is unfortunate that all three have sustained injuries within the space of two months. What is the probability of that happening? All three guys who were pushing for those two spots had serious injuries and had to go under the knife.”
“So you have to respond to that, put other people in those positions and see who can do it. Just in case they aren't fit for a World Cup. In that situation, we tried it with a few people.”
The former Indian captain added: “This word (experiment) keeps being thrown around thoughtlessly. It's not that we experiment for the sake of experimenting, sometimes there are specific reasons for doing so.”
While Pant is still out of action after multiple injuries in a horrific car crash on the Dehradun-Delhi highway in December last year, Iyer and Rahul injured their backs and thighs in March and May respectively.
Both Iyer and Rahul have recovered and are included in the Indian Asia Cup squad. However, Rahul will miss the first two games due to a minor issue.
Iyer's back injury worsened after the fourth Border Gavaskar Test against Australia in March. But the batsman will bolster India's middle class at the Asian Cup and World Cup.
“He looked good. Now it's about giving him playing time. Hopefully we can give him that at the Asian Cup and prepare him for the World Cup. He ticked all the boxes in that camp, fought a lot and played on the field.” Dravid said.
With PTI inputs
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