Why just rest captain Virat Kohli, when Shikhar Dhawan and to some extent Rohit Sharma had taken the same workload in the UK tour? Meanwhile, the 14th edition of the Asia Cup will begin from September 15, Saturday when Bangladesh take on Sri Lanka.

There are two groups, each having three nations. Group A consists of India, Pakistan and Hong Kong whereas Group B consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

Rohit Sharma will be leading the team as Kohli is given rest because of his long tour of England. “We need to preserve our precious players who play all three formats and looking at that workload issue we decided to rest him for the Asia Cup”, said MSK Prasad, chairman of the senior selection panel, on giving rest to Virat Kohli.

If it is about preserving the precious players, then Dhawan, Rohit and at some point KL Rahul should also have given the rest along with Kohli. Though, Rohit had been already on a long break as he was missed out from the Test squad against England. But, don’t you think Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw, and Mayank Agarwal should have given a chance to play and get tested on this level?

Well, we say that because there is hardly anything to gain in this tournament with the kind of low-slow pitches that would be used. The counter-argument to that would be prep up for the 2019 ICC World Cup, but even then the quality of cricket in this tournament would be nothing like what they will counter in England next year, hence the feeling that the time was ripe to blood in youngsters like Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, and Mayank Agarwal, two players who have had a phenomenal run in the domestic circuit and also for India A.

Had India won then (with a second-string side), the victory would have been sweeter.

“The World Cup is too far ahead. We will play a lot of games before that. A lot of players will get an opportunity to stake the claim for a berth in that World Cup squad. It’s a great opportunity to try for that perfect combination”, said Rohit at captains’ press meet on September 14. If it is also about getting the opportunity for players, then Gill, Shaw, and Agarwal should have been definitely given a chance because they are the ones who are making an impact for the other string of the Indian Cricket, i.e. India A.

Agarwal was the second highest run-scorer in the quadrangular series, finishing with 236 runs in four games at an average of 59, with one hundred and a fifty. He was India A’s highest run-scorer, as well as the second highest run-scorer overall, in the tri-series in England, notching 287 runs in four games at an average of 71.75, including two hundreds. The 27-year-old opening batsman from Karnataka had also scored 220 against South Africa A in the four-day match at the Chinnaswamy stadium.

Prithvi Shaw, despite getting a maiden call-up for India in England for the last two tests because of his performance for India A against West Indies A and England A, couldn’t make it to the playing Xl. He had notched century against each team in their country but couldn’t fit into the 16-man squad for the Asia Cup 2018. Moreover, Shubman Gill also had a good tour for India A in England and West Indies. He scored three half-centuries for India A, but couldn’t get selected for the Asia Cup.

This could have been the best reason and platform to experiment with such talents as Agarwal, Gill, and Shaw as much as they want to get the best combination for the World Cup 2019.

Meanwhile, they have made a change in the middle-order because it turned out to be a matter of concern during the England tour, despite the presence of MS Dhoni.

Manish Pandey, Ambati Rayudu and Kedar Jadhav have been recalled to the squad replacing Suresh Raina, Umesh Yadav, and Siddarth Kaul, who all featured in the ODI squad of England tour. This clearly shows that they are looking for a right combination in the middle-order of the batting line-up.

Pandey has been the highest run-scorer in the recent quadrangular series for India B against South Africa A, Australia A, and India A by scoring 306 runs in four games with one hundred and two fifties, and remained unbeaten throughout.

Rayudu, who was ruled out from the squad for the ODI series against England due to a failed yo-yo test, also featured in the quadrangular series along with Jadhav, who made comeback in the cricketing world way long break due to a hamstring injury, which he suffered during the opener of the IPL 2018. Rayudu somehow managed a couple of half-centuries and a knock of 48 in four games to finish as the third highest run-scorer. While Jadhav could only manage 30 runs in three innings.

Whereas, a 20-year old Khaleel Ahmed have got the maiden call-up for India. This left-armer finished as the joint third highest wicket-taker in the recent quadrangular series for India A by taking 7-wickets in the series. He also showed some powerpack performance in the ‘A’ team tri-series in England as he picked up six wickets in three games including a three-wicket haul in the final against England Lions. This adds one more option for the pace bowling attack.

Here’s the full squad:
Rohit Sharma (c), Shikhar Dhawan (vc), KL Rahul, Ambati Rayudu, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Shardul Thakur, Khaleel Ahmed

India will begin their Asia Cup 2018 campaign against Hong Kong on September 18, Tuesday.