All the talk leading up to the Asia Cup Super-Four Clash between India and Pakistan at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium was about the weather and who should India pick between the fit-again KL Rahul and
. Kishan’s 82 under pressure vs Pakistan in the league game at Pallekele last week seemed to suggest that he had won the No.5 spot, meaning the fit-again Rahul having to wait his turn to make his comeback.
However, at the toss skipper Rohit Sharma announced two changes, one of them ‘forced’ when he revealed that
had picked up a back spasm during warm-ups, ruling him out of the game.
Asia Cup: Rain takes India-Pakistan tie to Day 2
India’s opening batsmen, Shubman Gill and Rohit Sharma, scored fifties in the Super Four clash of the Asia Cup against Pakistan. Gill played aggressively, hitting six boundaries, while Rohit struggled against Pakistan pacer Naseem Shah. However, Rohit found his form against leg-spinner Shadab Khan,
Asia Cup, India vs Pakistan, Colombo Weather Forecast, September 11: Will rain allow the ‘Super 4’ match to be completed on the reserve day?
Just before the India innings hit the halfway mark, rain came pelting down and left the ground in unplayable condition once it stopped, forcing the umpires to suspend the match, which will resume from the same stage on Monday. India were 147/2 in 24.1 overs.
The other change was Bumrah coming back from paternity leave in place of
This was just Iyer’s second game, following back surgery and one of them, the match vs Pakistan, where he batted and made 14, did not see him field at all as the game was washed out after India were bowled out. Against Nepal, he was on the park for the entire innings fielding, but did not bat in India’s rain-hit chase.
India also had more than five days of no game time. So, his workload was not really high. The team sheet posted on WhatsApp and social media by the BCCI media department, suggested that Rahul’s inclusion was a last-minute change as Rahul was marked as the 13th man and Iyer was slated in to bat at No.4, which had to be struck out.
What the injury suggests is Iyer may still not be ready for the rigour and intensity of international cricket.
Sanjay Manjrekar, speaking to official broadcasters Star Sports, prior to India’s innings, said, “I’m just intrigued by Shreyas Iyer’s fitness. He’s had a long layoff. The big story was that he’s fit now… and now he’s got a back spasm. You got to start looking at players if there are such issues for captain and team management.”
Rohit and coach Rahul Dravid should also be worried as they had almost kept Iyer’s spot at No.4 warm as and when he makes his comeback. Iyer has not played international cricket since mid-March and had to miss the entire IPL because of back issues.
The decision to opt for surgery was eventually taken after it was assessed that the injury will not heal with just rest and rehab. He was picked in the squad for both the Asia Cup and the World Cup after being declared fit by the NCA medical staff and with so much hue and cry over the No.4 spot, his return to the squad almost sparked off a mini celebration as he has excelled at that number.
With the World Cup less than a month away though, Iyer’s latest injury set back creates fresh headaches for the team management. Will it be prudent to have a batter with dodgy fitness at No.4 for a nine-game event played across India with high intensity and high pressure?
Or should India look elsewhere? One asks this because Rahul too is returning from a lengthy injury break and a fresh niggle, leading him to miss the Kandy leg of the event. And to have two batters with an injury cloud manning the middle-order, is inviting trouble.
May be it’s better for India to give a game or two, weather permitting in the Asia Cup to
and have options for the middle-order, just in case Iyer’s injury is more serious than it appears. Sanju Samson would have been an option too, but he was sent back home after Rahul arrived.