India's batting order for Asia Cup opener vs Pakistan confirmed. Rohit, Gill, Kohli Iyer, Rahul do match simulation
The Indian cricket team, which is set to depart for Sri Lanka for the Asia Cup tournament on August 30, gathered on Thursday at the Karnataka State Cricket Association's (KSCA) Three Ovals campus in Alur for a six-day camp in preparation for the continental event, which will be followed by the ODI World Cup at home.
India's batting order has been one of the major talking points leading up to the two major tournaments. With KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer returning to the side after long injury layoffs, with Ravi Shastri and AB de Villiers calling for Virat Kohli to bat at No.4, the batting order for the Asia Cup remains a huge topic.
However, India's first proper training session on Friday in Alur will provide an insight into their preparations for the tournament opener against Pakistan next month.
The inclusion of Rahul and Iyer in India's Asia Cup roster was one of the most prominent aspects of the announcement. Rahul had been out of action since May after suffering a hamstring injury during IPL 2023 and requiring surgery.
Iyer has been out since March of this year due to a lower back ailment that required surgery.
The two have been selected for the Asia Cup after demonstrating their fitness through practise matches at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru, where they have been recovering for some time. But, as India prepares to compete in the Asia Cup, how will their batting order look?
According to Cricbuzz, India chose a centre-wicket practise with hitters deployed in pairs. Following Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer were despatched, implying India's top-order combination.
This also means that Kohli will bat at No. 3 for India, despite growing calls for the batter to drop one spot in the order and alleviate India's long-standing problem with the No. 4 batting berth.
Since the 2019 ODI World Cup, Kohli has batted only once at No. 4, against Australia in Wankhede in 2020, when he was captain. Furthermore, in the 29 occasions Kohli and Iyer have batted together since 2018, he has always batted at No. 3, with Iyer evolving as a consistent No. 4 batter since the start of 2020, batting at 3 once and at 5 three times.
If that was India's top four, Rahul, who was the talk of the practise session on Friday, came in with Suryakumar Yadav as the next pair.
Rahul had a niggle prior to his selection, as disclosed by chief selector Ajit Agarkar, thus he did not run between the wickets, but faced Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, and a few other net bowlers with no discomfort as Rohit and Agarkar watched.
Ishan Kishan worked on wicketkeeping drills with fielding coach T Dilip while Rahul hammered boundaries against the pacers and showed remarkable footwork against the spinners.
Is this an indication of India's batting plans?
The top order appears to be fixed, with Rohit and Gill opening and Kohli and Iyer following. India have still to determine whether Rahul will play, after Agarkar stated earlier this week that he may miss the first two Asia Cup matches.
This means that if Rahul is unable to play, Ishan will fill in as the wicket-keeper batter. The question then becomes whether Ishan will bat at No. 5 or replace Gill as an opener, with the batting order shifting down the order, meaning Gill at No. 3, Kohli at No. 4, and Iyer at No. 5. Meanwhile, Suryakumar, who struggled in the ODI format, will continue to serve as Iyer's backup.