"Ever since Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni retired, India were desperately looking for a replacement. Rahul has filled that slot with expertise. He is a definite lock at No.5 and is also our wicketkeeper-batsman," Ashwin said.

However, it's not all smooth sailing. Rahul has been nursing a niggle, raising concerns about his readiness for the upcoming Asia Cup. Ashwin expressed hope that Rahul would overcome this setback and be prepared for the first game of the tournament.

"Before Pant's injury, Rahul was second in line and now Ishan Kishan is the second keeper, he has grabbed that opportunity with both hands. Rahul has some niggle but hopefully, he will be ready for the first game. If he is not we have an 18-member travelling with squad in Sanju Samson," said Ashwin.