The Indian selection panel, led by Ajit Agarkar, is considering a 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup, set to commence on October 5.
This move aims to thoroughly assess all available options as a preparatory step for the ODI World Cup, which follows shortly after.
In an unprecedented move, head coach Rahul Dravid will participate in the selection meeting, representing his official role. This departure from the norm showcases a change in approach. It's worth noting that neither Ravi Shastri nor Anil Kumble were part of selection meetings during their respective tenures as national coaches.
Unlike Cricket Australia, where the chief coach is a part of the National Selection Panel (NSP), the Indian context separates the coach and captain from the voting process. Both coach and captain do not hold the right to vote in selection matters.
Attendance Mode Still Unclear
Whether skipper Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid will attend the selection meeting physically or via video conference remains uncertain. This meeting is set to take place in the national capital on Monday morning.
With key players KL Rahul (thigh) and Shreyas Iyer (lower back) needing to prove their fitness, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and selectors may lean towards a safer approach. Selecting a larger squad for the Asia Cup provides the opportunity to assess various players across five (or six, if reaching the final) games in Sri Lanka.
Provision for 17-Member Squads
The Asian Cricket Council has made provisions for 17-member squads in the Asia Cup. Correspondingly, countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh have also opted for 17-member squads for the tournament.
Considering the timeline, there is a possibility of choosing a provisional 15-member squad for the World Cup, which is due by September 5. Flexibility remains as changes can be made until the final squad submission deadline of September 27. In light of the Asia Cup, the selection committee may opt to include a couple more players in the squad.
India's selection strategy showcases a blend of caution, exploration, and preparation as they gear up for the Asia Cup and the subsequent ODI World Cup.