The Indian cricket team is all set for a lineup shuffle as they gear up to face Australia in a series of three One Day Internationals (ODIs) scheduled for September 22, 24 and 27. The team’s regular captain, Rohit Sharma, along with senior players like Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav, will be resting for the first two games. In their absence, KL Rahul will don the captain’s hat, leading the team in these initial fixtures. However, fans can look forward to the return of the regulars for the third and final game, which also serves as India’s last ODI before the World Cup.
One of the most prominent developments is the return of the seasoned off-spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, to the ODI arena. Ashwin, boasting a wealth of experience, had last graced an ODI match in 2022 and had largely remained on the periphery of the 50-over format, making cameo appearances in just two games over the past four years. Nevertheless, Rohit Sharma, the team’s captain, had hinted at Ashwin’s potential resurgence following India’s triumph in the Asia Cup. Rohit stressed the ongoing dialogues he had with Ashwin, emphasizing that the cricketer remained a valuable asset. Rohit reemphasized the significance of Ashwin’s extensive experience, highlighting that Ashwin’s prowess transcends mere physical capabilities, delving deep into the psychological facet of the sport. The decision to reintegrate Ashwin into the team was contingent on their continuous discussions and an assessment of his physical condition and preparedness. Despite a relatively subdued phase in ODI cricket, Ashwin maintained an active presence in Test cricket and even participated in TNPL games. The forthcoming encounters against Australia present an opportune moment to gauge his performance, particularly considering his wealth of experience.
The squad overhaul also entails KL Rahul’s elevation to the captaincy role. This strategic move follows a minor injury setback endured by Shreyas Iyer, originally earmarked for the captain’s position. Iyer, who had made a successful recovery from a stress fracture in his back, encountered back spasms that curtailed his participation during a significant portion of the Asia Cup. In the interim, Rahul regained his footing within the middle-order batting lineup. Ajit Agarkar, the chairman of selectors, expressed sanguinity regarding Iyer’s gradual return to peak physical condition during the Australia series.
The selection of two offspinning allrounders, Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar, was prompted by the uncertainty surrounding Axar Patel’s injury. Although chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar maintains a hopeful outlook on Axar’s recuperation, the inclusion of Ashwin and Sundar bolsters the squad’s depth. This tactical decision affords the team management versatility, particularly if they opt for a spin-centric strategy.
India squad for first two ODIs: KL Rahul (captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, R Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, J Bumrah, M Siraj, M Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar
Squad for 3rd ODI: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, R Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, J Bumrah, M Siraj, M Shami, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel (subject to fitness), R Ashwin, Washington Sundar