Team India incurred a huge blow on Sunday while veterans, experts and fans were left shocked when captain Rohit Sharma revealed at toss during the Asia Cup 2023 Super Four match against Pakistan at the R Premadasa Stadium that Shreyas Iyer, who had only joined the squad two matches ago and played only one innings so far, was on the bench for the crucial tie owing to a fresh injury concern. It indeed was a “forced change” as mention by Rohit as the team sheet initially had Rahul as the 13th man while Iyer at his usual No. 4, but their numbers were crossed out later before being released. (India vs Pakistan Live Score, Asia Cup Super 4)
The entire build-up to the Pakistan game centered around whether India should play Rahul, who was out with a hamstring injury since May followed by a niggle during his practice at the NCA for his Asia Cup selection, or Ishan Kishan, who replaced him in the line-up for the group-stage tie against the arch-rivals and scored a stunning 82. However, soon the discussion shifted to whether both could be part of the line-up putting Iyer’s place in XI in doubt.
Like Rahul, Iyer too just returned from a long injury lay off. He has been on sidelines since March this year with a lower back stress for which he had to later undergo a surgery as well before recovering in time to make the Asia Cup and World Cup squad with head coach Rahul Dravid pleased with the batter’s progress saying that he had “ticked all the boxes”. However, on Sunday, he incurred another back injury, forcing him out of the playing XI for the match against Pakistan and leaving legendary cricketers in Harbhajan Singh and Sunil Gavaskar “concerned”.
Speaking to India Today after the playing XI was announced on Sunday, Gavaskar was disappointed at the unfortunate turn of events for Iyer, who he felt looked in good touch in that knock of 14 he played in Pallekele against Pakistan and added that India would have to keep a replacement ready if he doesn’t get fit for the World Cup.
“It’s a worry definitely. If a player is out for 5-6 months due to an injury and then has it again with a month before World Cup, so yes it is an area of concern. Luckily, you can make changes in your World Cup team, and in case he is unfit and doesn’t recover then there will be somebody who will replace him. It is sad because he looked good in that match against Pakistan. He played a lovely cover drive,” he said.
Harbhajan, on the other hand, felt that the NCA are answerable in this regard given the rise of repeated injury cases among players before pointing out that the injury to Iyer has done a world of good to Rahul.
“Injuries are part and parcel of the game. But getting injured that often is either bad luck or you are making a position for KL Rahul. I think getting injured at this point in time is going to hurt his position in the team as well and make things correct for KL Rahul. It is very worrying that players are getting injured again and again and it is mostly to do with the kind of training they do. So that is the question NCA needs to answer because that is where players go and rehabilitate and train themselves. And what KL Rahul brings to this table is stability in the batting line-up,” he added.
Team India are expected to provide an official update on the injury soon.