Former New Zealand cricketer Scott Styris reckons that KL Rahul getting back into the Indian team ahead of Asia Cup 2022 is great for the side, terming the right-handed opener as “a genuine match winner” on the “biggest stage”.
Rahul has been out of competitive cricketing action since featuring in the IPL 2022 Eliminator on May 25 in Kolkata. His team, debutants Lucknow Super Giants, lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore by 14 runs at Eden Gardens.
Rahul was then named as captain for the five-match T20I series at home against South Africa in June. But a right groin injury on the eve of the first match in New Delhi ruled him out of the series. The sports hernia surgery in Germany meant that Rahul was ruled out of England tour too.
Rahul was set to return during India’s T20I series against West Indies, but a positive Covid-19 test ahead of the tour meant he wasn’t included in the trip to the Caribbean and ODIs against Zimbabwe. But with the T20 World Cup in Australia coming close, Rahul is now fully fit to be back in action for India in shortest format of the game.
“KL Rahul was a simple decision probably of all the possible match-ups that we’ve discussed, I think this was the easiest one. You see, how valuable to the Indian team to the management and to the selectors because he’s been given the vice-captaincy as well. So that says that he was always a frontline player in this Indian side,” said Styris on ‘Sports Over The Top’ show on Sports18.
With Rahul coming in, wicketkeeper-batter Ishan Kishan has been left out of the Asia Cup squad. “And I guess it’s unlucky for Ishan Kishan, he’s got that left-handed ability which I think they’d have loved to have got into the squad if they possibly could have because it’s a very right-handed dominant side until to get to someone like Rishabh Pant.”
“So, I think he’ll be disappointed and naturally, he’s a terrific player. But KL Rahul, it is great for India that he’s back because you know, he’s a genuine match winner on the biggest stage too,” added Styris.
On the bowling front, India have taken Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Avesh Khan and Arshdeep Singh as fast bowling options with Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel nursing injuries. On the tour to West Indies, Avesh had leaked 0/54 in six overs on his ODI debut and had figures of 1-31 and 0-47 in T20Is at St Kitts.
He redeemed himself with a brilliant spell of 2-17 in fourth T20I at Florida and ended the series with 0-20 in the final match of the series. Saba Karim, the former India wicketkeeper and ex-member of the selection committee, backed Avesh’s inclusion in the Asia Cup squad, saying that selectors have to persist with youngsters whom they have invested in for a long haul.
“I feel once you have invested in youngsters like Avesh Khan, you possibly can’t leave them out to be barbecued and such youngsters haven’t done anything wrong.”
“I can understand Mohammed Shami on current form is a strong bet more so with Jasprit Bumrah out due to injury but it just feels that the selectors want to have that kind of security and they want to persist with the youngsters whom they have shown so much of faith.”