Chief selector Ajit Agarkar Southpaw's Asia Cup

Tilak Varma Is Promising: Agarkar On Southpaw’s Asia Cup Inclusion

Chief selector Ajit Agarkar Southpaw's Asia Cup

Chief selector Ajit Agarkar said on Monday that batter Tilak Varma is a promising talent and his inclusion in India’s Asia Cup squad will offer him a lot of exposure. 

Team India skipper Rohit Sharma and selector Agarkar held a press conference in Delhi after a meeting to announce the Asia Cup 2023 squad. 

On Tilak Varma’s inclusion in the squad, Agarkar said, “Tilak Varma is promising. Asia Cup is a big opportunity for him. We saw some real promise not only in terms of performances but also temperament during the T20I series against West Indies. This will give him exposure. He is also a left-hander,” said Agarkar in a press conference. 

In the recently concluded India-West Indies T20I series, Tilak impressed fans with his composure and maturity on the field, putting a big prize on his wicket. In five matches, he scored 173 runs at an average of 57.66, with one half-century and a strike rate of around 139. 

On all-rounder, Hardik Pandya’s role in the Asia Cup, skipper Rohit said that his role will stay the same.

“He has done it for years. His role is going to be the same, to bowl overs, bat the way he bats and field. There is nothing different we want him to do. What he does is what is required of us. If he keeps doing that, the team will be well-balanced,” said Rohit. 

Talking about the lack of batters who can bowl, Rohit said that the current squad is the best the team has and they cannot create a batter who can bowl overnight. 

“Whatever we have right now, they are the best. We give them chances to play and perform. You cannot make batters who can bowl overnight. These guys are batters, they have scored runs, and that is why they are here. Maybe Rohit and Kohli can roll some arm in the World Cup. (laughs),” said Rohit. 

Talking about where Ishan Kishan would fit in when KL Rahul plays, Rohit said, he wants players who are fine with batting anywhere. 

“One thing I want in this team is to make sure everyone is okay to bat anywhere. You need flexibility, guys who can step up at any position. No one should say, ‘I am good at this position or I am good at that position’. You want guys to be able to bat anywhere, that is the message conveyed to every individual. Not now, but over the last three-four years. I know it is tough for guys on the outside to understand why a guy who bats at six is batting at four, but the message has been given. You do not want to be handicapped or stuck with one player batting in one position. Having said that, you want to get the best out of players in certain positions. All seven-eight [positions] are open to anyone, that’s the message we have sent out for so many years now,” said Rohit. 

Talking about the openers, Agarkar said that it is unfortunate that veteran Shikhar Dhawan, who last played for India in December last year, has to miss out.

“Rohit is not bad (laughs), Shubman has had a phenomenal 2-2.5 years and Ishan as well. Shikhar has been terrific and we all know his records. But at this moment, there are three players who are doing really well and are our preferred openers. Unfortunately, someone has to miss out,” said Agarkar. 

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced a strong 17-member squad for the upcoming Asia Cup 2023 which will begin on August 30 with Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul returning to the squad and Tilak Verma also getting a place in the team.

The 2023 Asia Cup will be co-hosted by Pakistan and Sri Lanka with the tournament running from August 30 to September 17.

Asia Cup will serve as an important benchmark for India’s preparations for the World Cup starting in October and will also help selectors make choices for the marquee event.     

India will open their Asia Cup campaign with an iconic clash against Pakistan on September 2 in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya has been appointed Rohit Sharma’s deputy in Asia Cup 2023. 

The squad also marks the return of Jasprit Bumrah to ODI cricket after a gap of more than one year. After proving his fitness in the ongoing T20I series against Ireland, Bumrah is set to test himself in the 50-over format heading into the World Cup. India’s pace attack will be boosted by the return of Mohammed Siraj, who was not in the team for some time due to a sore ankle. 

Tilak Varma made it to India’s Asia Cup squad on the back of his strong performance against West Indies during the tour that ended this month. 

A big question ahead of Team India’s selection meeting for the Asia Cup 2023 was the fitness of KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. Both have made it to the squad.

Bowling all-rounders Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel are also in the squad to give the captain more diversity in choices. Apart from Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja is also in the team as an all-rounder.

The tournament will kick off with a clash between Pakistan and Nepal in Multan, Pakistan. 

Pakistan, India and Nepal are in Group A while Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka are in Group B. The tournament will follow a hybrid model with Pakistan hosting four matches across two venues and Sri Lanka hosting the remaining games.

The six group-stage matches will be followed by the Super Fours, beginning September 6. 

The final will be played by the top two teams at the end of the Super Fours on September 17 in Colombo.  

Squad: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Prasidh Krishna. (ANI)

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