As the India squad for the Asia Cup 2023 was announced on August 21, many questions were raised over the exclusion of some important players given that the continental tournament is a preparation for the upcoming ICC World Cup which begins on October 5.
While Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul made their comeback into the Indian team, along with Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna; one big notable omission was that of Yuzvendra Chahal, who was left out in favor of Kuldeep Yadav.
BCCI's chief selector, Ajit Agarkar, shed light on this decision during a recent press conference and said that the selection committee faced a difficult choice between Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, two exceptional wrist spinners.
He also said that Akshar Patel’s ability with the bat was the reason he was picked in the squad.
"Chahal is undoubtedly a terrific performer, but we had to carefully consider the overall balance of the team. Accommodating two wrist spinners in the squad would have posed significant challenges.
Akshar Patel has done really well. He can bat too. Kuldeep Yadav has had a fantastic run to this point. So someone had to miss out. Kuldeep is currently a little ahead of him (Chahal),” Agarkar said.
Indian captain Rohit Sharma echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the need for someone who could bat at no.8 or 9, and choosing Akshar Patel gave them that depth.
"But we also want someone who can bat at number eight and nine. Akshar has had a great run with the bat in all formats and the IPL. He got some chances in the West Indies too, but he bats too low. Him being there gives us batting depth, a left-hand option, and someone who we can use up the order to play spin,” Rohit said.
Kuldeep has had a fantastic 2023 in white-ball cricket, taking seven wickets in three matches with the best figures of 4/6 and eight wickets in seven T20Is, with the best figures of 3/28. This year Chahal has taken three wickets in two ODIs and nine wickets in nine T20Is.
He added that the door remains open for all three potential spin bowling options- R Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Washington Sundar, to prove their worth and stake their claim for a spot in the upcoming World Cup.
“We also thought of Ashwin (Ravichandran Ashwin) and Washi (Washington Sundar) as well. The only way we could include them was by having a seamer miss out. We cannot do this because seamers are going to be playing a massive role in the next two months.
But the door is open for all. If we need Chahal in the World Cup, we will try to squeeze him in. The same goes for Ashwin and Washington," he added.
The World Cup 2023 will begin in India on October 5 onwards while the Men in Blue will play their first match on October 8 against Australia in Chennai.