Veteran off-spinner R Ashwin has been called back to the Indian ODI team for the three-match series against Australia, with a potential chance to secure a spot in the World Cup squad if Axar Patel doesn’t recover from injury before the ICC’s September 28 deadline.
In preparation for the World Cup starting on October 5, key players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, and Kuldeep Yadav will be rested for the first two games, allowing them to rejuvenate mentally.
KL Rahul will lead the team in those initial matches, with Rohit Sharma returning to lead a full-strength squad in the final ODI. This third game effectively serves as the World Cup squad announcement, including Ashwin and Washington Sundar.
Ashwin, who hasn’t played an ODI since January 2022, could step in as a last-minute replacement if Axar remains unfit. Axar had sustained a quadriceps tear during the Asia Cup, causing him to miss the final.
Chief selector Ajit Agarkar mentioned that both Ashwin and Washington are contenders for Axar’s replacement if needed, but they hope that Axar will recover in time.
Rohit Sharma clarified that Ashwin, as a proven performer, could be swiftly integrated into the team if required. Ashwin had a similar experience in T20 cricket, being left out after the World Cup in Australia.
Injury-prone Shreyas Iyer, who played only two games in the Asia Cup due to a back spasm, is also available for all three ODIs.
The first ODI will be on September 22 in Mohali, the second on September 24 in Indore, and the third on September 27 in Rajkot. India will then play two World Cup warm-up games against England and Netherlands on September 30 and October 3 before their tournament opener against Australia in Chennai on October 8.
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