has been drafted in as the 16th member of India's squad that will tour Zimbabwe for three ODIs between August 18 and 22. Rahul will also captain the squad, with Shikhar Dhawan, who was earlier set to lead, now named his deputy.
Rahul's inclusion follows a clearance from BCCI's medical team that has earlier advised a two-week post-Covid-19 recovery time frame. Rahul is believed to have contracted the virus
a week prior to his scheduled departure for the West Indies mid-July, for the five match T20I-series. Last week, Rahul was named in India's full-strength squad for the Asia Cup that will be held in UAE from August 27.
Since recovering from Covid, Rahul has had to pass the mandatory cardiovascular test following which he has slowly amped up his training routine. ESPNcricinfo understands Rahul has resumed batting and training full tilt over the past week, following which he underwent a medical assessment. Prior to contracting Covid, Rahul had been recovering from a surgery
he underwent for sports hernia in Germany in June.
Rahul hasn't played any competitive cricket since IPL 2022, where he led debutant-franchise Lucknow Super Giants to the playoffs. He was initially set to be part of the England tour party for the fifth Test in Birmingham in early July, but had to pull out due to a groin strain, which was later revealed as a sports hernia.
This will be Rahul's second stint as India captain. His first stint was far from memorable, with India being blanked 3-0
in the ODIs in South Africa earlier this year.
Injury scare for Washington Sundar
, who is also part of the squad, suffered an injury scare on Wednesday. In the midst of a stint with English county Lancashire, Washington landed heavily on his left shoulder after diving from mid-on to stop a drive in a Royal London Cup fixture against Worcestershire. He left the field immediately and didn't take any further part in the match as a precautionary measure. Washington is likely to link up with India's squad directly in Harare after Lancashire's clash against Hampshire on Sunday.
Like Rahul, Washington too has had a run of injuries this year. In February, he was sidelined from the West Indies and Sri Lanka T20Is at home due to a hamstring injury. During the IPL, he injured his bowling hand while playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He then underwent a month-long rehabilitation at the NCA in June and it is understood he had a shoulder issue to sort out before making his County Championship debut.
The Indian team will depart for Zimbabwe later this week. All three ODIs will be played at Harare Sports Club, with the hosts on a high after an impressive 2-1
win over Bangladesh. While the series is part of the ICC World Cup Super League and massively important for Zimbabwe - finishing in the top eight on the Super League table means direct qualification to the World Cup - India qualify for next year's World Cup automatically by virtue of being the hosts.
Updated India squad: 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.