On Monday, the Indian cricket team management unveiled the lineup for the forthcoming three-ODI series against Australia, a competition regarded as a dress rehearsal leading up to the World Cup. To ensure mental freshness ahead of the mega event, key senior players such as skipper Rohit Sharma, senior batsman Virat Kohli, versatile all-rounder Hardik Pandya, and the in-form spinner Kuldeep Yadav have been granted a respite from the first two matches.
KL Rahul is set to assume leadership for these initial games against Australia, with Rohit’s return slated for the third and final ODI just prior to the commencement of the World Cup on October 5. The composition of the squad for the third game essentially mirrors the 15-member World Cup squad, supplemented by the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar.
In the meantime, the Indian cricket team returned from Sri Lanka following the Asia Cup, arriving early on Monday morning. India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, was seen returning home in a Mercedes, where he graciously indulged police officers and fans by posing for selfies.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who last featured in an ODI in January 2022 during the South Africa series, could potentially be a last-minute addition to the World Cup roster if Axar doesn’t recover before the International Cricket Council’s September 28 deadline. Axar sustained a quadriceps tear during the recent Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, causing him to miss the final match against Sri Lanka on Sunday.
Chief selector Ajit Agarkar indicated that both Ashwin and Washington Sundar are contenders for the replacement slot if Axar’s recovery is uncertain. During a virtual session with the media, Agarkar explained, “We’re hoping that Axar is fit, but if the need arises, we’ll consider these options.”
Following the selection of the 15-man World Cup squad earlier this month by the Ajit Agarkar-led panel, questions were raised about the absence of an off-spinner, especially with several left-handed batsmen in the opposing teams. In response to queries about Ashwin’s omission from the Asia Cup squad, Captain Rohit emphasized that a proven performer like Ashwin could be readily integrated into the team if required.