NEW DELHI: The Indian selection panel, led by Ajit Agarkar, is reportedly leaning towards choosing a 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup as part of a comprehensive assessment of all potential options ahead of the ODI World Cup, which is set to commence on October 5.
In an unprecedented move, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has invited head coach Rahul Dravid to participate in the selection meeting, deviating from the conventional practice.Neither Ravi Shastri nor Anil Kumble were part of selection meetings during their stints as national coaches.
In contrast to Cricket Australia, where the chief coach is a part of the National Selection Panel (NSP), in India, both the coach and the captain lack the authority to cast votes in the selection process.The status of whether skipper Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid will be physically present or join via video conference remains unconfirmed.
Given the fitness concerns surrounding key players KL Rahul (thigh) and Shreyas Iyer (lower back), the BCCI and selectors could opt for a safer approach that allows them to assess all available players in the five (or six if they reach the final) Asia Cup matches in Sri Lanka.
The Asian Cricket Council has provision for 17-member squads for the Asia Cup. Accordingly, both Pakistan and Bangladesh have selected 17-member squads.

“There is a possibility of picking the provisional 15-member squad for the World Cup which needs to be submitted by September 5, but one could make changes as the deadline for the final squad is September 27,” revealed an anonymous BCCI source to PTI.
“For the Asia Cup, a couple of more players could be picked.”
Recent reports indicate that Rahul is nearing full fitness, while ESPNCricinfo has highlighted that Iyer batted for 38 overs and fielded for 50 overs in a warm-up game at the NCA.
While the meeting will discuss the inclusion of left-handed batting talent Tilak Varma, it remains uncertain if he could secure a spot in the final 15 if both Iyer and Rahul are declared fit.
Similar uncertainty surrounds Sanju Samson, who might miss out on the final 15 if Suryakumar Yadav, known for his finishing abilities, secures the additional batter’s slot in case both senior players (Rahul and Iyer) are fit and available for selection.

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While speculation abounds regarding Ravichandran Ashwin’s inclusion in the World Cup squad based on his skill set, a former national selector has questioned why Ashwin wasn’t given the opportunity to stay back in the West Indies after the Test series and evaluate his white-ball form in the ensuing ODIs.
“If you could play Axar at No. 4, why couldn’t you pick Ash just to check him out as he could be lethal in Indian conditions? Why pick him directly in the Asia Cup, if at all?” queried a former member of the previous selection committee.
India’s likely 17-member squad (including provisional 15 for Sept 5 deadline): Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul (wk, subject to fitness), Shreyas Iyer (subject to fitness), Hardik Pandya (VC), Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohmmed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Ishan Kishan (2nd wk), Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Yuzvendra Chahal/R Ashwin.
(With inputs from PTI)

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