Asia Cup 2023

Asia Cup 2023: Ishan Kishan to bat in middle order against Pakistan; Sanju Samson unlikely to be tried

Asia Cup 2023: With India’s world cup team to be chosen on September 5th, India prefers Ishan, who is already locked in the squad, rather than creating selection headaches by trying Samson at No. 4.

Last week, during India’s preparatory camp in Bangalore, Rahul Dravid had called the team over for dinner at his home. That evening, players trooped out of the lift, and stood around along with the chief selector Ajit Agarkar and other support staff. The most cheerful among them was Ishan Kishan, cracking jokes, backslapping others, and generally in a good mood. These are good times for Ishan. Three consecutive half-centuries against West Indies, and injury niggles to chief contenders has put him in a chance to seal a middle-order spot in the world cup. And it will start with the Asia Cup where India is set to try him at No.4 or No. 5 against Pakistan and Nepal.

With KL Rahul, who is recovering from a groin niggle ruled out of group stages of the Asia Cup, India’s team management’s latest experiment would be to make Ishan Kishan bat in the middle-order. Though Sanju Samson has travelled with the team as a reserve for Rahul, with the chances of him finding a spot in the World Cup squad – set to be announced on September 5 — looking bleak, the team management is planning to try Kishan in at No 4 or 5.

With Shikhar Dhawan not part of the plans since last December and Kishan, primarily an opener, scoring a double century against Bangladesh, he had his place sealed as a third choice opener. However, with India’s middle-order composition far from certain and top three of Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli looking set, the makeup of the middle order has remained uncertain especially in the absence of Rahul. Especially after Shreyas Iyer, who had consistently done well at No.4, got injured. And even more so, after Suryakumar Yadav failed to sparkle in that spot.

Also Read: Asia Cup2023 lands in big controversy as Pakistan’s name missing from team jerseys, PCB blasted before India match

While playing Samson would continue to give them the flexibility that skipper Rohit talked about in the press conference after the Asia Cup was announced, it is understood that the team management doesn’t want to add more complications this close to the World Cup. With Kishan’s position locked, bringing Samson back into the contention so close to the World Cup will add a new headache. In the previous weeks with Rahul’s availability being a huge concern, the team management did deliberate on shuffling the top three where one of Rohit and Kohli were being actively considered to bat at No 4.

However, following a week-long camp at the KSCA facilities in Alur in the outskirts of Bangalore, India’s think-tank has decided not to break the top three. The Indian Express understands that Rohit was not keen on the top three batting out of their positions as they brought stability at the top. Instead, with Kishan not being first choice player in the XI, the team management has decided to try him in the middle-order as he would also bring in something different by being a left-hander.

In the six matches that Kishan has batted in the middle-order (at No 4), he averages only 22.75 and has a tendency to struggle against spinners while starting his innings. Kishan will be one of the two reserve batsmen in the squad with the other likely to be Suryakumar Yadav.

WC squad selection

Meanwhile, it is understood that the senior national selection committee will meet on September 5, a day after India’s group match against Nepal to pick the squad for the World Cup. The participating teams are supposed to handover the squad list to the ICC on September 5 and the indications are that the meeting would be held in Kandy with chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar joining the team here on Thursday.

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