Mumbai: India skipper Virat Kohli’s workload will be in focus along with the middle-order slots when the national selection committee picks the squad for the Asia Cup cricket tournament on Saturday.
While India will be entering the tournament after a gruelling two-and-a-half month tour of UK, it is unlikely that top stars will take rest as they are set to play arch-rivals Pakistan at least twice or may be three times if the two teams reach the final.
However, the skipper has had issues with his back and with another six Test matches lined up in the next three months (two vs West Indies and four vs Australia), the selectors will be cautious while monitoring Kohli’s workload.
There is nothing to suggest that Kohli will opt out of the tournament but, if he does, then Rohit Sharma will lead the side.
The other concern will be fixing the middle-order woes.
While Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma select themselves, KL Rahul will remain a backup opener or one-down depending on the team situation.
However, it’s the two batting slots after Kohli which are a bone of contention going into the World Cup next year.
Manish Pandey had an indifferent run with the senior team but the Quadrangular series saw him roar back to form. he led India B to the title with 306 runs in four games without being dismissed once.
Ambati Rayudu has passed the test and scored a few runs for India A. Kedar Jadhav is also fit and his slow off-breaks could be an asset on the UAE tracks.
The selectors will also find it difficult to ignore Mayank Agarwal’s rightful claim to a place in the side after scoring truckloads of runs for Karnataka and India A.
He has been a stupendous success across formats but with Dhawan, Rohit and Rahul as openers, it will be difficult for the selectors to slot Agarwal unless they decide to rest Dhawan.
But there is a chance that if Agarwal is ignored for the Asia Cup, he will play against the West Indies at home where some seniors are certain to be rested.
The bowling department will have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah leading the attack with Shardul Thakur and Siddarth Kaul fighting for the backup pacer’s slot along with Umesh Yadav.
With Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind stumps, there are chances that young Rishabh Pant, who has looked far more confident than Dinesh Karthik, may make it as Dhoni’s understudy.