BCCI’s senior selection committee on Saturday (September 1) rested regular skipper Virat Kohli from the 16-member Asia Cup squad. Rohit Sharma will lead the side in Kohli’s absence. Shikhar Dhawan has been named Rohit’s deputy while Khaleel Ahmed is the new face in the squad.
Addressing the media after announcing the entire squad for Asia Cup 2018, chief selector MSK Prasad explained why Kohli was rested from the high-profile tournament.
"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," Prasad told reporters.
It is worth mentioning here that Kohli Virat played all the matches on England tour thus far with fifth and final Test still to be played from September 7. Moreover, the 29-year-old has been struggling with injuries lately. Before the England series, Kohli had missed his maiden county stint for Surrey due to a neck sprain. During the second Test at Lord’s, the India captain suffered a lower-back strain and was doubtful to participate in the third Test.
On the other hand, the inclusion of Khaleel Ahmed is a well thought-out decision from the selectors. Given that India doesn’t have a left-arm pacer in their arsenal for next year’s World Cup in England, Khaleel’s selection is heartening for the Indian fans.
"There are two, three slots we are yet to see before we fix the final team for the World Cup and one of the slots is a seamer slot which is available. We are looking at a left-hander option in Khaleel Ahmed,” Prasad explained.
Khaleel is a 20-year-old left-arm pacer from Rajasthan, who was part of the recent Quadrangular series for India A. He bagged seven wickets in the four matches in the tournament against India B, South Africa A and Australia B. Earlier, he also travelled to England with India A and bagged eight wickets in five matches against England Lions and West Indies A.
The 14th edition of the Asia Cup is scheduled to be held in UAE from September 15 to 28. The tournament will see six teams being divided into two groups. The winner of the Asia Cup qualifier will be joining India and Pakistan in Group A while the Group B comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
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, Y Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed