India rest regulars for first two ODIs for Australia, include Ashwin and Sundar for all three games

India rest regulars for first two ODIs for Australia, include Ashwin and Sundar for all three games

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Ravichandran Ashwin could play his first ODI in over 20 months in the upcoming series against Australia


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India on Monday announced two separate squads for the three-match ODI series against Australia, set to take place from 22 to 27 September. KL Rahul is set to lead in the first two games while the final ODI would feature the entire World Cup squad as well as Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar.

Washington Sundar has retained his place in the squad after recently featuring in the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka following several injuries sustained by Axar Patel in the previous encounter versus Bangladesh. The all-rounder's availability for the marquee event set to begin on October 5 remains in doubt with his inclusion for the final ODI subject to fitness as well. 

"We're hoping Axar will be fit. Washy was already part of the squad for the final. Ashwin brings experience, so it gives us options in case there is a need at some stage for us to look at those guys," chief selector Ajit Agarkar was quoted saying while announcing the squad.

Ravichandran Ashwin, meanwhile, last played an ODI in January 2022 but was revealed to be kept in the selection loop by Rohit Sharma ahead of the squad announcement on Monday. The off-spinner has in the meantime remained a key cog of the red-ball squad and is the leading wicket-taker in Tests in 2023. 

"With guys like Ashwin, game-time and time on the ground is not so much of a concern which is why we thought if he is an option for us, we need to get him in. With the kind of experience he has, for guys like him, it's all in the head more than the body. I thought getting him in could give us a chance to understand where he is at, how his body is and stuff like that," Agarkar clarified.

"It's not like he has not been playing cricket for the last year or so. Yes, he hasn't played in this format, but he played Test cricket recently in the West Indies, and if I'm not wrong, in the TNPL as well. Of course, there's no comparison but he has had some cricket there. The games against Australia will give us a chance to look at where he's at," he further added.

None of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma or Hardik Pandya would be available for the opening two games slated to be held at Mohali and Indore on September 22 and 24 respectively. This has made way for Ruturaj Gaikwad, the captain for the Asia Games 2023, Tilak Varma, and Prasidh Krishna, the latter two of whom were part of the Asia Cup squad.   

"Luckily we got a fair amount of cricket at the Asia Cup. If not, we would've looked at it some other way. More than physical, sometimes guys need a mental break, which isn't a bad thing leading into a tournament like the World Cup. For the third game, everyone will be available. We will play our World Cup squad. This [squad for the first two ODIs] gives us a chance to give guys sitting outside a chance. It's still a strong squad. Like I said, if we hadn't got a lot of cricket at the Asia Cup, who knows, we may have thought differently," explained Agarkar. 

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