India has recalled veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to the One Day International (ODI) squad for the upcoming three-match series against Australia. The announcement comes just ahead of the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, adding an intriguing twist to India’s preparations.
Ashwin, who last donned the ODI jersey for India in January 2022, will join the squad as the third spinner alongside Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja. Notably, he was excluded from the initial 15-member World Cup squad that India unveiled and was also absent from the Asia Cup.
The return of Ashwin to the ODI setup marks a significant moment in his career, as the off-spinner had not featured in the fifty-overs format for India for five years prior to the two ODIs against South Africa in 2022. After those two games, he was once again sidelined, leaving fans and experts alike speculating about his international future.
For the first two ODI matches against Australia, KL Rahul will assume the captaincy, with regular skipper Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli taking a well-deserved rest. Rohit Sharma will return to lead the team in the final ODI of the series.
Washington Sundar, who recently represented India in the Asia Cup, has retained his spot in both the ODI squads, showcasing his all-round abilities. Axar Patel, who sustained an injury before the Asia Cup final, is on the path to recovery and is expected to participate in the third ODI, contingent on his fitness.
Rohit Sharma had hinted at Ashwin’s potential return during a press conference after the Asia Cup. “As a spinner-all-rounder, Ashwin is in line; I have been talking to him on the phone,” said Rohit. Ajit Agarkar, a former cricketer and commentator, confirmed that Ashwin’s experience played a pivotal role in his selection despite his lack of recent ODI appearances.
The upcoming ODI series against Australia, commencing on September 22, will serve as the final preparation for both teams before the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup. The stakes are high, as both India and Australia have their sights set on the coveted No.1 ranking in the MRF Tyres ICC Men’s ODI Team Rankings. A series victory for India will see them enter the World Cup as the top-ranked team, while Australia aims to regain the top spot by defeating India 3-0.
Shreyas Iyer, who missed a portion of the Asia Cup due to injury, is expected to be a vital part of the series, as confirmed by Agarkar. “Shreyas Iyer didn’t pick up a stress fracture, or else he wouldn’t be a part of this squad. He’s fit, and we’re hopeful he will play all the games in this series,” Agarkar stated.
India had previously announced their 15-member World Cup squad, with a deadline until September 28 to make any necessary changes, subject to ICC approval.
Australia, too, has announced its squad for the series, with several key players making their much-anticipated return, setting the stage for an exciting and fiercely competitive contest between the two cricketing giants.
1st ODI: Mohali, Sept 22nd, 13:30 IST
2nd ODI: Indore, Sept 24th, 13:30 IST
3rd ODI: Rajkot, Sept 27th, 13:30 IST
India squads for Australia ODIs:
Squad for first two ODIs: KL Rahul (c), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar.
Squad for final ODI: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel (subject to fitness), R Ashwin, Washington Sundar.