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Cricket-Fit-again Iyer and Rahul back in India squad for Asia Cup


By Amlan Chakraborty

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India on Monday recalled fit-again batters KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer to their one-day set-up for the Asia Cup, inching closer to finalising the squad for the home World Cup later this year.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul (thigh) and middle order batter Iyer (back) returned from injuries to join the 17-member squad led by Rohit Sharma for the Asia Cup to be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka from Aug. 30.

While Iyer’s return is expected to end India’s search for a set batter at number four, Rahul’s ability to bat anywhere in the top and middle order, as well as his glovework, make him a limited-overs asset.

With pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah having made a successful comeback from back surgery in the current T20 series in Ireland, India have now gathered all their frontline players ahead of the World Cup.

Chief selector Ajit Agarkar said it was a “no-brainer” that the 17-member squad picked for the Asia Cup pretty much included the 15 who would play in the World Cup in October to November.

“A few important guys are coming back from injuries and I hope all goes well for them,” Agarkar said in a press conference called by the Indian board, which usually announces squads in terse statements without explaining inclusions and omissions.

“Shreyas has been declared fit, but Rahul has suffered a niggle though we are expecting him to be fit for the second or third game in the Asia Cup.”

Rohit’s team will begin their Asia Cup campaign against Pakistan on Sept. 2 at Pallekele.

“As far as our preparations are concerned, this is the right tournament for us to test ourselves and perform under pressure,” the India captain said.

Rohit said flexibility would be key to winning the World Cup on home soil, like India did in 2011 under Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“I want to make sure that everyone is fine with batting anywhere. It’s very critical in any format,” the opener said.

“Cricket is moving in a different direction. You need flexibility, you need guys who can step up in any position.”

“That is the message that has been conveyed to every individual.”

India squad

Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Prasidh Krishna

Stand-by: Sanju Samson

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Ken Ferris)

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