Senior opener and first-choice vice-captain KL Rahul will return to Team India along with seamer Deepak Chahar for the Asia Cup on August 8, according to a source.
In an interview with the PTI, one anonymous source from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said that Rahul would remain to play as a specialist opener.
"KL Rahul doesn't need to prove anything. He is a class player. Whenever he plays T20, it is always as a specialist opener and that would continue. Surya and Rishabh are set to play as specialist middle-order batters going forward,” the source said.
Team India is set to play around a dozen matches before its match against Pakistan at MCG on October 23. While Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav have been partners of Rohit Sharma for the opening in the last six T20 matches, Rahul is slated to reclaim his place at the top of the order in this line-up.
Rahul has often been criticized for his approach to opening the innings in T20Is. He will need to change his game in the continental tournament in the UAE as Pant and Yadav employ the "attack at all costs" philosophy in the powerplay.
Meanwhile, Chahar has not played competitive cricket for five months. He also missed the 2022 IPL season. However, he has completed his rehabilitation for hamstring and back injuries.
Rahul was scheduled to lead team India in the five-match T20I series against South Africa after IPL 2022 but was rested due to an injury. He eventually underwent surgery and missed the entire UK tour.
He was included on the team for a five-match T20I series against West Indies. Unfortunately, he contracted COVID-19 at the last moment, delaying his return to the national team. He was not named to the tour of Zimbabwe for three ODIs on August 18. He has not played any match for India since February.
There have been speculations regarding Rahul's absence in Zimbabwe. A senior BCCI source said Saturday that Rahul’s delayed return was due to his hamstring injury.
"KL Rahul has recovered from COVID-19 but his hamstring injury seems to have resurfaced. He was supposed to be picked for Zimbabwe but now one can't put a date on his comeback," the source said.
Rahul posted on social media, explaining he would not be travelling for India’s next white-ball match after the T20Is against West Indies.
"My surgery in June was successful, and I had begun training with the hope of returning to national duty for the team’s tour of West Indies," Rahul said.
"Unfortunately, as I was nearing a return to full fitness, I tested positive for Covid-19. This naturally pushed things back by a couple of weeks, but I aim to recover as quickly as possible and be available for selection as soon as I can."
He added that he was eager to return to the side and contribute to Team India’s success.
"To represent the National team is the highest honour, and I cannot wait to get back out there in blue. See you soon, KLR," he said.