India's Asia Cup squad has said goodbye to Sanju Samson, as KL Rahul's return to the team has made him surplus to requirements. Initially, Rahul was absent from the group-stage matches against Pakistan and Nepal due to a minor injury. However, he has since recovered and rejoined the squad ahead of the Super 4 stage, eliminating the need for Samson, who was originally selected as his replacement.
Upon his return, Rahul spent a significant amount of time batting in the indoor nets in Colombo during his first session with the Indian team, post his injury recovery. While there were some initial questions regarding his decision not to keep wickets, it soon became clear that this choice was due to the limited space in the indoor net area, rather than any lingering injury concerns.
Any doubts about Rahul's fitness were dispelled when he kept wickets for nearly 90 minutes under the floodlights on Friday. Favorable weather allowed the Indian team to train outdoors at the R Premadasa Stadium in preparation for their Super 4 opener against Pakistan on Sunday. Following Rahul's return and display of fitness in the nets, Samson, who is not included in India's World Cup squad, was sent back home.
However, Rahul's extensive wicket-keeping practice meant that he missed out on a batting opportunity, as an unexpected downpour cut short India's practice session just as he was gearing up to bat.
Meanwhile, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Axar Patel, and other players who had skipped the optional indoor session on Thursday, trained with full intensity on Friday until the weather allowed. According to Sports Today, Bumrah bowled exceptionally well and managed to outwit Rohit and Kohli on a few occasions.
India's other two leading pacers, Shami and Siraj, also had extended training sessions, and Axar Patel worked on his batting skills.
Freelance sports journalist Vimal Kumar reported that India placed special emphasis on providing batting practice to the lower-order batsmen. Players like Shardul Thakur, Axar, and Bumrah spent significant time with the batting coach to improve their skills. The inability of India's bowlers to contribute crucial runs towards the end of innings has been a significant talking point in recent months. Part-timers like Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma, though not in contention for a spot in the XI, bowled a few overs, signaling a change in mindset within the Indian camp.
The team also paid special attention to training against left-arm seamers, considering the threat posed by Pakistan's speedster, Shaheen Shah Afridi, who had taken four wickets in the group stage match against India.