Asia Cup 2018: Virat Kohli's Workload In Focus As Selectors Eye A Balanced Side
Virat Kohli will be under pressure to meet all India's engagements over the next few months.
With less than three weeks to go for the Asia Cup, Indian selectors will have quite a few headaches when they sit for the selection of the team on Saturday. As India continues with their gruelling tour of England, the workload of senior players along with middle-order conundrum will be a few serious questions that the selection committee will encounter. Skipper Virat Kohli's workload will be a priority, although it is unlikely that the selectors will rest any of the senior players as India are set to play arch-rivals Pakistan at least twice or maybe thrice if the two teams reach the final in the upcoming tournament.
Kohli has had issues with his back and with another six Test matches lined in the next three months (two vs the 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 Yo-Yo 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 back-up 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.
(With PTI inputs)