With KL Rahul Out, Can Sanju Samson Play Against Pakistan?

India head coach Rahul Dravid confirmed that wicket-keeper batter KL Rahul wouldn’t be able to participate in the first two games of the Asia Cup 2023. With India scheduled to square off against Pakistan and Nepal in their first two matches, the team would have to take the field without Rahul, meaning another wicket-keeper batter would have to take the field. While Ishan Kishan is the only member of the main 17-man squad who can keep, the Indian team also has Sanju Samson as the reserve 18th member of the squad.

However, Samson can’t be made a part of the playing XI as yet. For Samson to feature in a match for the Indian team, he would have to be a part of the main 17-man squad. For that to happen, Rahul would need to be ruled out of the entire tournament, and not just the first couple of games.

At present, Rahul has only been sidelined for the first couple of games, with head coach Dravid remaining optimistic of his return in the following matches.

“He’s had a really good week with us,” Dravid told media on Tuesday. “Really done well, done a lot of things. He’s progressing really well on the route that we want to take. But he will be unavailable for the first part [of the Asia Cup], for the Kandy leg of the trip. The NCA will be looking after him for the next few days while we are travelling.

“We will reassess on 4 September and take it from there. But the signs are looking good and he’s progressing really well. He will be unavailable for the first two games.”

If the team management feels Rahul needs more time to be fully fit for selection, he could be permanently ruled out for the remainder of Asia Cup 2023. In such a case, Samson, being the only reserve member of the squad, would automatically be included in the 17-member roster. Once that happens, Samson will be available for selection.

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