NEW DELHI: Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin made a surprise comeback as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Monday announced the squad for the three-match ODI series against Australia at home.
The series will serve as the final preparation for both teams before going into the ODI World Cup, starting October 5 in India.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been rested for the first two matches of the series. KL Rahul will lead the team in the absence of Rohit in the first two games. However, both Rohit and Virat will return for the final one-dayer.
Shreyas Iyer, who missed the latter half of the Asia Cup due to back spasm has also been included in the team.
All-rounder Axar Patel, who suffered a quad injury during India’s Asia Cup Super Four fixture against Bangladesh will miss the first two games. His inclusion for the final game will be subject to fitness.
Man-of-the-series in the recently concluded Asia Cup, left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav has also been rested for the first two matches and will return in the squad for the final game.
The biggest outcome however from the squad announcement was the return of Ashwin, who last played an ODI for India in January 2022.
The inclusion of Ashwin now means that the 37-year-old is still very much in the running to be part of India’s World Cup campaign despite being left out of the provisional squad.
“As a spinner all-rounder, Ashwin is in line. I have been talking to him on the phone,” skipper Rohit had said after India’s Asia Cup title triumph.
Ashwin has played 113 ODIs and has 151 wickets to his name in the format.
In the press conference on Monday evening, skipper Rohit said Ashwin’s lack of game-time in the ODI format is not a concern as he has been a consistent player for India in Tests over the years. “It’s all in the head for players like him,” said Rohit.
“We are hoping Axar Patel is fit for the third encounter. R Ashwin and Washington Sundar are also included for the third ODI,” said Ajit Agarkar.
Young batter Tilak Varma, who recently made his ODI debut, has also been included in the squad for the first two matches along with pacer Prasidh Krishna.
The first ODI will be played in Mohali on September 22, second in Indore on September 24 and third in Rajkot on September 27.
India Squad for first two ODIs: KL Rahul (C & WK), Ravindra Jadeja (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna
India Squad for 3rd & final ODI: Rohit Sharma (C), Hardik Pandya, (Vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel*, Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj
Australia Squad – Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa