Shreyas Iyer’s fitness has kept the Indian team management on their toes ahead of the Asia Cup Super 4 match against Bangladesh on Friday followed by the big final on Sunday. The right-hander was one of the few members of the Indian side to take part in the optional practice session on Thursday. He spent a considerable amount of time with the strength and conditioning coach Soham Desai before padding up against the throwdown specialists. Reports from journalists present in Colombo were mixed. Some suggested that he is available for selection in the Bangladesh game while another senior journalist felt Iyer had some visible stiffness on his back and might not be picked for the match against Bangladesh.
Iyer played against Pakistan and Nepal in the group stage, but hasn’t featured in the Super 4 fixtures against Babar’s side and Sri Lanka, due to back spasms. He hurt his back in a warm-up session minutes before the Pakistan match in Colombo. Iyer had undergone surgery on his back after he was reoccurred during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia at home. It kept him away from the game for a good six months or so before he made a comeback in the Asia Cup.
Since Iyer is an integral part of India’s World Cup plans, his never-ending back problems would keep the think tank worried. His presence in the nets is sure to bring some sort of comfort to the team management. If captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid want to give some extra time for the Mumbaikar to recuperate, they can weigh their options between Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav.
While Kishan has been impressive in ODIs so far, Suryakumar’s numbers were quite disappointing in the format.
Despite that, Suyakumar has been viewed as an important cog in India’s white-ball establishment, and the think tank would want to give another chance for him to push his case.
The BCCI selection committee is also expected to announce the squad for the upcoming Australia series during this week. If there is a doubt Iyer’s fitness then the selectors will have to take a call as those three ODIs are the last chance to finalise the XI before the World Cup.
For Iyer’s replacement, there is a high probability that Tilak Varma could be preferred. “Possibly Tilak being a left-hander could pip a more experienced Sanju in the worst possible case where he is unable to recover in time. However with two weeks (September 27) left to announce the final squad, every stakeholder in Indian cricket will keep its fingers crossed,” a PTI report stated.
Tilak has been practising hard in the nets whenever he has an opportunity during the Asia Cup. The left-hander who made his T20I debut in the West Indies, is yet to make his ODI debut. What could also go in Tilak’s favour is his bowling. He has been bowling regularly in the nets. In fact, even on Thursday, he spent long hours bowling in the nets. India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey said both Suryakumar and Tilak are ready to play.
“We have been working on him from the under-19 level. If he gets even to bowl one over or two (during a match) we will be happy. He is an option, especially against the left-handers. If we get to play him he is ready, even Surya is match-ready,” he said.
As far as India’s practice session was concerned, most of the first-XI players chose to give it a miss. With India already in the final, Mhmabrey did not rule out the possibility of changes in the XI.
“We haven’t yet finalised our XI but yes there is definitely a possibility to try out a few players tomorrow as we have already qualified for the final,” he added.