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India's Ishan Shreyas Iyer in action during the second ODI against South Africa at JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi last year. Image Credit: IANS

New Delhi: Team India chief selector Ajit Agarkar said on Monday that middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer has been declared completely fit while KL Rahul is having a niggle and is expected to recover by the second or third game of the Asia Cup.

Agarkar said this while addressing a press conference with skipper Rohit Sharma here, and announced the Asia Cup 2023 squad.

“Shreyas Iyer has been declared fully fit. It is great news. KL Rahul is carrying a niggle. But we expect him to get fit by the second or third game of the Asia Cup. These two are extremely important players for us,” Agarkar said.

About who plays in the No 4 position for India in Asia Cup and the World Cup, Rohit said, “You got guys who can bat at number four (laughs). It is not about No 4, but about the top three, then from there onwards. It is not just one position that can win us a game and a tournament. It is about the batting unit coming together as a batting unit and getting the job done. There have been challenges. Guys have been put under pressure.

"We have had some injuries, we had to try and see other players in that position. We had to rotate them. Some players missed out due to workload management. We had to try what combination suited us. We tried Axar at number four, a left-hander at number four and allowed him to play with freedom. Once we get into World Cup, we want to rest assured that this is what we want to do.”

Asia Cup from August 30

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced a strong 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 which will begin on August 30 with Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul returning to the squad and Tilak Verma also getting a place in the team.

The 2023 Asia Cup will be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the tournament running from August 30 to September 17.

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KL Rahul is having a niggle and is expected to recover by the second or third game of the Asia Cup. Image Credit: IANS

Asia Cup will serve as an important benchmark for India’s preparations for the World Cup starting in October and will also help selectors make choices for the marquee event.

India will open their Asia Cup campaign with an iconic clash against Pakistan on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been appointed Rohit Sharma’s deputy in Asia Cup 2023.

The squad also marks the return of Jasprit Bumrah to ODI cricket after a gap of more than one year. After proving his fitness in the ongoing T20I series against Ireland, Bumrah is set to test himself in the 50-over format heading into the World Cup. India’s pace attack will be boosted by the return of Mohammed Siraj, who was not in the team for some time due to a sore ankle.

Tilak Varma made it to India’s Asia Cup squad on the back of his strong performance against West Indies during the tour that ended this month.

A big question ahead of Team India’s selection meeting for the Asia Cup 2023 was the fitness of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. Both have made it to the squad.

More choices

Bowling all-rounders Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel are also in the squad to give the captain more diversity in choices. Apart from Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja is also in the team as an all-rounder.

The tournament will kick off with a clash between Pakistan and Nepal in Multan, Pakistan.

Pakistan, India and Nepal are in Group A while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are in Group B. The tournament will follow a hybrid model with Pakistan hosting four matches across two venues and Sri Lanka hosting the remaining games.

The six group-stage matches will be followed by the Super Fours, beginning September 6.

The final will be played by the top two teams at the end of the Super Fours on September 17 in Colombo.

Squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna.