KL Rahul has been drafted as the 16th member of the Indian squad that will tour Zimbabwe between August 18-22 for three ODIs. Rahul will also lead the squad, with Shikhar Dhawan, who was previously appointed to lead, and is now named his deputy.
Rahul’s inclusion follows an approval from BCCI’s medical team who previously advised a two-week recovery period from Covid-19. Rahul is said to have contracted the virus a week before his scheduled departure to the West Indies in mid-July for the five-match T20I series. Last week, Rahul was named in India’s full squad for the Asia Cup to be held in the UAE from August 27.
Since recovering from Covid, Rahul had to pass the mandatory cardiovascular test, after which he slowly ramped up his exercise routine. ESPNcricinfo understands that Rahul has fully resumed hitting and training for the past week, after which he has undergone a medical assessment. Before contracting Covid, Rahul was recovering from surgery he underwent in Germany in June for a sports hernia.
Rahul has not played competitive cricket since IPL 2022, where he led debutant franchise Lucknow Super Giants to the playoffs. He was initially scheduled to be part of the England tour party for the fifth Test in Birmingham in early July, but had to withdraw due to a groin injury, which was later revealed as a sports hernia.
This will be Rahul’s second stint as captain of India. His first stint was far from memorable, with India knocking out 3-0 in the ODIs in South Africa earlier this year.
Injury fears for Washington Sundar
Washington Sundar, who is also a member of the squad, sustained an injury on Wednesday. In the midst of a spell with the English county of Lancashire, Washington landed heavily on his left shoulder after ducking halfway to stop a drive in a Royal London Cup match against Worcestershire. He immediately left the field and took no further part in the game as a precaution. Washington is likely to directly join the Indian squad in Harare after Lancashire’s clash with Hampshire on Sunday.
Like Rahul, Washington has had a string of injuries this year. In February, he was at home with a hamstring injury on the West Indies and Sri Lankan T20Is side. During the IPL, he injured his bowling hand while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He then went through a month of rehab with the NCA in June and it’s clear he needed to fix a shoulder problem before making his County Championship debut.
The Indian team will leave for Zimbabwe later this week. All three ODIs are played at the Harare Sports Club, with the hosts on a climax after an impressive 2-1 win over Bangladesh. While the series is part of the ICC World Cup Super League and is hugely important for Zimbabwe – a top eight place on the Super League table means direct qualification for the World Cup – India will automatically qualify for next year’s World Cup as it host.
Updated India Team: KL Rahul (Captain) Shikhar Dhawan (Vice Captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Deepak Hooda, Rahul Tripathi, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Sanju Samson (wicketkeeper), Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel, Avesh Khan, Prasidh Krishna, Mohammed Siraj, Deepak Chahar.