Rahul has been diligently recovering from a thigh surgery at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. He will undergo one final set of fitness drills before departing for Sri Lanka to join the Indian team currently participating in the ongoing Asia Cup.
NCA trainers and the team management have been left with little doubt about Rahul’s readiness after observing him extensively in practice sessions and match simulations.India are expected to reveal their World Cup-bound squad before the September 5 deadline, but the announcement was expedited following Rahul’s fitness clearance.
Furthermore, it is anticipated that Rahul will assume the role of wicketkeeper in the World Cup, adding versatility to his contributions.
Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar, who arrived in Pallekele on Saturday, reportedly held discussions with captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid after the India-Pakistan match, which was unfortunately abandoned due to rain.
Ishan Kishan is slated to serve as the second wicketkeeper in the squad, with his impressive performance of 81 runs against Pakistan on Saturday being a decisive factor.
This means that Sanju Samson will miss out on a spot in the Indian squad, despite his presence in Sri Lanka as a traveling reserve.
Suryakumar Yadav too has found a place in the squad despite his less than satisfactory outings in the ODIs.
Suryakumar could not get going in the ODIs against West Indies (July-August), making just 78 runs from three matches averaging 26.
However, the team management felt that the Mumbaikar can add further meat to the middle-order.
In batting apart from skipper Rohit, players like Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer were automatic picks. Hence, Tilak Varma will have to sit out for the moment.
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami will handle the pace department along with all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur.
So, Prasidh Krishna, who is part of the India squad for the Asia Cup, will not be featured in the World Cup squad.
The spin unit will be led by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has been in fine fettle this year.
Kuldeep is India’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs in 2023, taking 22 wickets in 11 matches. Kuldeep and Ravindra Jadeja will be India’s two first-choice spinners.
This will be the second World Cup for Kuldeep as he had played 7 matches for India in the 2019 World Cup, picking up 6 wickets in England.
The selectors and the management thought deeply about the third spinner and zeroed in on left-arm spinner Axar Patel, whom they thought will also give a bit more depth in batting if needed.
In that context, veterans R Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, who had plucked 12 wickets from 8 matches in the 2019 World Cup, will miss the cut.
India’s provisional squad for World Cup 2023:
Rohit Sharma (Captain), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.
(With inputs from PTI)