IND vs PAK: Ishan to Open, Kohli at No. 4, Gill…: Analyzing India’s Options in the Absence of KL Rahul during the Asia Cup 2023 Group Stage

IND vs PAK, Asia Cup 2023: The recent flurry of activities on the practice field gave rise to optimistic expectations. With intensive batting drills, immersive match simulations, and rigorous wicketkeeping routines, there was a prevailing belief that KL Rahul’s untimely injury setback could be surmounted.

Star Sports’ broadcasts from India’s training camp in Alur further fueled this optimism, painting a picture of hope and determination. In the midst of all this, Ajit Agarkar’s reservations as a BCCI selector, voiced a week prior, seemed poised to be proven wrong.

Yet, as the training camp concluded, Rahul Dravid, India’s head coach, echoed the sentiments of the selectors in asserting Rahul’s unavailability for the Asia Cup group-stage matches. This was a preventive measure, mindful of the upcoming ODI World Cup, which was now just a month away.

Also Read: Asia Cup 2023 Schedule: Dates, Venues, Teams & Format

The origins of Rahul’s sidelining trace back to IPL 2023, where a hamstring injury initially took him out of action. However, the road ahead would diverge from the team’s journey to Sri Lanka.

Instead, Rahul was bound for the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, where diligent work with physiotherapists would be his path to regaining full fitness. The Super Four stage of the Asia Cup was the targeted return point.

On September 4, a fitness assessment loomed large, the results of which would dictate his potential involvement in the Sri Lanka venture. Amidst Dravid’s optimism, Rahul’s absence poses a puzzle, casting shadows over the composition of India’s playing XI for the Asia Cup.

Also Read: Asia Cup 2023 India Squad, Team, Playing 11, Matches, Schedule, Players List

The readily available replacement in Ishan Kishan brings forth a set of questions regarding his batting position and its cascading effects on the team. As the countdown to India’s clash against Pakistan ticks away, a tapestry of possible scenarios emerges in the wake of Rahul’s absence.

IND vs PAK – Exploring Scenarios: Mapping India’s Batting Order for Asia Cup 2023.

IND vs PAK - Asia Cup 2023 - Ishan Kishan, Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill

Scenario 1: Ishan Kishan Opens…

With Ishan Kishan’s elevation to the opening position, India’s batting lineup undergoes a transformation. Shubman Gill could find himself at No. 3, a role he has assumed briefly with four ODIs under his belt.

Shubman Gill
Shubman Gill

Notably, he scored an impressive 130 against Zimbabwe last year. Virat Kohli, in this scenario, might shift to the No. 4 spot, an idea endorsed by the likes of Ravi Shastri and AB de Villiers.

This strategic shuffle raises a question regarding the No. 5 slot. Suryakumar Yadav could provide a potent option, potentially replacing Shreyas Iyer, or Iyer might adapt to the No. 5 position, leveraging his record of three half-centuries in nine outings.

Scenario 2: Ishan Kishan at No. 3…

Considering this configuration, Ishan Kishan’s role shifts to the No. 3 spot, a position he has held on four occasions, delivering two half-centuries. This arrangement would place Virat Kohli at No. 4, with Shreyas Iyer positioned at No. 5. The success of this scenario hinges on Kishan’s adaptability to the pivotal No. 3 position.

Scenario 3: Ishan Kishan Takes No. 4…

Ishan Kishan’s experiences at the No. 4 position mirror his performances as an opener, albeit with a modest average of 21. Accumulating 106 runs, including one half-century, his track record sparks mixed sentiments. Under this scenario, Virat Kohli maintains his familiar position at No. 3, while Shreyas Iyer could potentially be pushed down the order.

The Enigma of Sanju Samson…

Among the pressing questions looms the enigma of Sanju Samson. Will India take the gamble of placing Ishan Kishan at No. 5, a role he hasn’t yet embraced, or will the team harness the capabilities of Sanju Samson? Strategically included as a traveling reserve, Samson’s selection factors in Rahul’s injury concern.

Samson’s record outside the top 4 holds promise, boasting an impressive average of 52 at No. 5 and a remarkable 90 at No. 6, with consistent half-century performances.


KL Rahul’s absence has necessitated a meticulous reevaluation of India’s batting lineup. With multiple permutations at play, the selectors and coaching staff face a significant task. The impending match with Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2023 magnifies the urgency of crafting an XI that not only compensates for Rahul’s absence but also optimizes the team’s batting prowess.


Is KL Rahul’s absence confirmed for the entirety of the Asia Cup 2023?

KL Rahul’s absence is confined to the group-stage matches as a precautionary measure. His inclusion in the Super Four stage hinges on a forthcoming fitness assessment.

Who is the likely replacement for KL Rahul as the opening batsman?

The replacement option for KL Rahul as an opener is Ishan Kishan.

What are the potential batting lineup configurations with Ishan Kishan in the mix?

Configurations range from Ishan Kishan opening, influencing the positions of Gill, Kohli, Iyer, and Suryakumar, to Kishan assuming No. 3 or No. 4.

How has Sanju Samson fared outside the top 4 positions?

Sanju Samson’s performance outside the top 4 positions has been impressive, particularly excelling at No. 5 and No. 6.

When will KL Rahul’s availability for the Super Four stage be determined?

KL Rahul’s fitness evaluation on September 4 will shape his potential involvement in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup.

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