Will India Include Ashwin For First ODI?

The selection of the Indian team for the Australia ODI series has left many bewildered.

Why continue to experiment with the World Cup just round the corner? Instead of getting your best XI settled down into their roles ahead of the World Cup, the selectors have taken the surprise decision to rest their key four players — Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav — for the first two games of the three-match series.

What sense does it make to try out players like Ruturaj Gaikwad, who is leading India at the Asian Games and is not in running for the World Cup, while someone like Sanju Samson, with a fifty in his last ODI game has been left out in the cold.

Much has been said and written about Suryakumar Yadav, who just can’t seem to get to grips with 50 overs cricket. Why the team management continues to believes in him despite string of failures is a mystery to everyone!

Even the experienced Yuzvendra Chahal with an impressive record in white ball cricket hasn’t been considered, but Ravichandran Ashwin, who last played an ODI, against South Africa in January 2022 suddenly comes into the fray.

The off-spinner fell out of favour after the 2015 World Cup, and has played just 17 one-dayers since then — taking 18 wickets at an economy rate of 5.45, but he has found favour along with fellow Tamil Nadu off-spinner Washington Sundar as a possible replacement in case the injured Axar Patel doesn’t recover in time for the World Cup.

Playing one series one after the one across formats hasn’t given the Indian team much time to sit back and work on their flaws ahead of the World Cup.

India did triumph in the Asia Cup recently with some dominating wins against Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but the World Cup is an entirely different beast with nine matches in the space of four weeks.

Ahead of the 2011 World Cup, India had a near one-month break from cricket during which they worked on their preparations during a special camp in Bengaluru, but this time around they are playing a series couple of weeks before the start of the World Cup, which leaves them hardly have any time to recharge their batteries and make contingency plans for the mega-event.

Talking about the Australia series, all eyes will be on K L Rahul, who made a successful comeback during the Asia Cup and has been handed the extra burdency of captaincy along with his wicket-keeping and batting responsibilities.

Will Rahul work on his game or will he as the captain be looking to sort out the team’s few unresolved issues going into the Australia series, one of them being their middle order batting.

A fit-again Shreyas Iyer is set to reclaim the No. 4 spot after missing the last few matches of the Asia Cup with back spasms. He had come into the Asia Cup after a long-term injury but played just two games before an another injury setback ruled him out. It remains to be seen if he straightaway hits form or takes some time to find his rhythm.

The struggling Suryakumar needs a big knock to seal his World Cup or else someone like Tilak Varma can forge ahead from right under his nose.

India could have Gaikwad partnering Shubman Gill as the opener, but it would make more sense to try out Ishan Kishan, a dangerous batter in white ball cricket, to open the innings with a view to give him practice ahead of the World Cup.

In the absence of Hardik Pandya, a lot of responsibility will also be on vice-captain and the team’s premier all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, who has not done well with the bat recently, while Shardul Thakur also needs a few runs behind his back.

It remains to be seen if India include Ashwin and Sundar in a three-man spin attack or if they pick just one of them to partner Jadeja, while going in with three specialist fast bowlers for the opening match.

The ODI series will be the last opportunity for both off-spinners to stake their claim in case India needs a late replacement for Axar.

Probable XI: Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Shreyas Iyer, K L Rahul (captain, wicket-keeper), Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin/Washington Sundar, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj.

Who do you think should be part of India’s playing XI for the first ODI against Australia at Mohali on Friday?

Please select your team from the list below and do post your playing XI in the message board below:

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