Rahul has been absent from cricket and missed many series since IPL 2022. Earlier, he suffered a groin injury before contracting COVID-19. According to NCA sources and insiders at BCCI, he has recovered, but his physical condition has not been assessed.
“KL Rahul is completely fit and that is the reason why he was selected in the team. But as protocol he will undergo a fitness test in Bangalore”, the source said.
After IPL 2022, the 30-year-old was set to make his debut as India captain against South Africa. However, he was ruled out just before the opening fixture. After the series against South Africa, he was appointed to lead the team in Rohit Sharma's absence for the Test series against England. He missed the tour as well.
In June, he was excluded from the Proteas tour due to a groin injury. He left for Germany for the surgery.
While Rahul is included in the 15-men squad for the upcoming Asian Cup, there have been questions regarding his fitness.
“This always delays things by a few weeks, but I strive to recuperate as rapidly as possible so that I might be chosen as soon as feasible. The biggest honour is to represent the national team, and I can not wait to return to the field wearing blue. I will see you soon, KLR,” Rahul said in June.
If Rahul fails his fitness test, Shreyas Iyer will replace him in Dubai. If he passes, Rahul will open the innings with Sharma in the tournament.
Opposition to Rahul's return
Many cricket veterans and fans have said that Rahul should not be returning to cricket anytime soon considering his physical condition while others think his absence would be a good chance for younger players to improve.
Former Pakistani spinner Danish Kaneria insisted that team India give Rahul some time to recover and not be rushed into the India XI for the upcoming Asia Cup.
“Although Rahul has not played for an international team in a while, he was chosen over Shreyas Iyer, Shubman Gill, and Sanju Samson, who were all regularly playing,” Kaneria said.
“When a player returns from injury, you should not immediately put him in the starting lineup. Given his importance to India in the T20 World Cup, he should have been given some time to adjust to the team.”
Meanwhile, former New Zealand all-rounder Scott Styris said on Sports18’s Sport Over the Top that Rahul's absence had provided an opportunity for younger players to prove themselves.
"It's a different mindset for players because they don't want to be out and they don't want to be giving other players opportunities,” Styris said.
“I know India has a very good culture within its group, so it doesn't mind allowing other players opportunities all the time. I know as a player myself, you never wanted to give somebody else a chance to take your spot.”