Suryakumar Yadav turned 33 on Thursday. However, instead of the birthday boy, a fellow Mumbaikar stole the limelight during India’s optional training session at the R. Premadasa Stadium on Thursday.
Shreyas Iyer had not left the team hotel following a back spasm he had minutes before the toss against Pakistan in India’s Asia Cup Super Four opener on Sunday. The stylish batter, prime contender for the No. 4 position in India’s batting order, knocked a few balls before facing net bowlers for a while.
Shreyas’ return to the park, albeit not in terms of being match-fit, was heartening. After all, in a tournament where almost all the boxes have been checked for India, his back flare-up, days after returning to competitive cricket from surgery, has been the only area of concern.
Despite his return to the practice arena, Iyer is unlikely to be rushed during the last Super Four game of the continental showpiece event. With the final line-up having already been decided, Shreyas is set to be rested for India’s game against Bangladesh on Friday.
Not only Shreyas, but India will also be tempted to rest Jasprit Bumrah and possibly Hardik Pandya too, with an eye on the big prize in November. After all, Sunday’s final will serve as nothing but a curtain raiser for the World Cup challenge lying ahead for Rohit Sharma and Co.
Including Friday’s match, with Bangladesh having lost the first two and India having won both their Super Four ties, India has only five ODIs before the World Cup warm-ups begin towards the month’s end. As a result, it will not be a surprise if India opts to play a full-strength side. Still, Mohammed Shami getting gametime and Bumrah taking it easy are also crucial with an eye on the World Cup.
It will be interesting to see if India allows Suryakumar Yadav to celebrate his birthday a day later by resting an established batter. The choice between Axar Patel, who looked rusty with the ball against Sri Lanka, and Shardul Thakur at the No. 8 slot will depend on assessing the nature of the pitch ahead of the toss.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, will hope to end yet another forgettable Asia Cup campaign on a high, by stunning India. However, the job will be far more difficult than it appears, with Mushfiqur Rahim joining the long list of unavailable players that has become longer through the course tournament.
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