India's middle-order batsman Shreyas Iyer is facing a race against time to be fit for the 2023 ODI World Cup, which will be held in India from October 8 to November 26. Iyer underwent back surgery in April 2023, after suffering from a chronic injury that kept him out of action for several months.
Iyer, who has been a regular fixture in India's ODI team at the No.4 position, last played for the nationa l side in the second Test against Australia in February 2023. The Mumbai batsman missed the subsequent ODI series against the same opponents, as well as the 2023 Indian Premier League (IPL) season for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
According to reports, Iyer's recovery process has been slow and he is unlikely to play any competitive cricket before the World Cup. A senior BCCI official told Inside Sport that Iyer's progress is not a certainty and he might need some matches to regain his form and fitness before the mega event.
“Iyer’s progress is slow, but we are hoping that he recovers in time for the World Cup. At the present moment, it is not a certainty with Iyer,” the BCCI official said in an interview. The official also said that Rahul might feature in the Asia Cup team, whereas Bumrah might return for India's tour of Ireland.
The Asia Cup is scheduled to be held in August-September 2023, while India will also play a three-match T20I series against Ireland in September. In case Iyer fails to make it to the World Cup squad, India has some potential replacements in Ruturaj Gaikwad and Sanju Samson who are in the squad for the West Indies tour. Gaikwad is a top-order batsman who has impressed in List A cricket and IPL, if he performs well in West Indies, he could get a look in.
Although, Suryakumar Yadav, who made his ODI debut against Australia in January 2023, was considered a potential number four has been underwhelming in ODIs which includes three consecutive ducks. Samson, who has played only one ODI so far, has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket and also led the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL.