India’s emphatic 10-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2023 final showcased their readiness for the upcoming ODI World Cup. However, lingering injury concerns still loom over the team, notably the puzzling case of Shreyas Iyer. The middle-order batsman had recently returned to India’s ODI squad after a lengthy injury hiatus but found himself sidelined again after participating in just two matches against Pakistan and Nepal.
Iyer’s absence dates back to March when he suffered a lower back stress fracture, requiring surgery that ruled him out of the entire IPL 2023 season and subsequent series, including the WTC Final and the West Indies tour. After a brief rehabilitation stint at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru, Iyer underwent match simulations and practice games to demonstrate his fitness.
However, in the lead-up to the clash against Pakistan in the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup, he experienced a back spasm, sidelining him for the remainder of the tournament. Gautam Gambhir, former India opener, expressed his concerns about Iyer’s fitness and suggested that the young batsman should be replaced in the World Cup squad due to his inability to prove his fitness during the Asia Cup.
Gautam Gambhir remarked, “It is a concern. You were out for such a lengthy time and then you return for the Asia Cup, play one match and then again become unfit. I don’t think after this team management will pick him for such a big tournament. You will see in the coming days that Iyer won’t be part of the World Cup squad, and someone will be replacing him. You should always go into a World Cup with fit players.”
He continued, highlighting the importance of player fitness in a tournament as crucial as the World Cup. Gambhir emphasized that not only has Iyer been plagued by injuries, but his form is also uncertain, having played just one game in recent months. Rohit Sharma, the Indian captain, addressed Iyer’s injury situation after securing India’s eighth Asia Cup title.
Sharma mentioned that Iyer had specific parameters to fulfill before returning to the playing XI and stated, “Shreyas was not available for this game because certain parameters were kept for him to tick off. I think today, he completed most of it. I should say he is alright 99 per cent as of now. But he looks good, he batted and fielded for long hours, and he was on the ground long before we came to the ground. I don’t think it is a worry for us.”