Veteran Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin returned to the ODI side for the first time since January 2022. Ashwin, who hasn't been a regular on the white-ball side somehow gets into the probables before the World Cup. A similar thing happened in the last two T20 World Cups as well and this time Axar Patel's injury has meant that the 37-year-old has gotten in the reckoning once again.
Washington Sundar was called up ahead of the Asia Cup final and even played the game while Ashwin is part of the squad for the three-match Australia series starting Friday, September 22 in Mohali. Speaking about Ashwin's return, skipper Rohit Sharma said that the motive behind selecting him for Australia ODIs was just to have a look at him, where he is at as far as his body is concerned if there is an emergency call-up during the World Cup.
Speaking at the squad announcement press conference, Rohit said, "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 is a chance to understand where he is at, how his body is and stuff like that.
"It's not like he has not been playing cricket for the last year or so. Yes, he hasn't played in this [ODI] 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," the skipper added.
Does that mean Ashwin is very much in the World Cup plans? Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar didn't give a clear answer but he hoped that Axar Patel would get fit till the end of the ODI series and if he doesn't, both Ashwin and Washington Sundar are on standby.
"There are couple of guys anyways, him and Washington. Look basically, what is being made known to us about Axar's injury is that he should be okay and call we will make it once we know that but it leaves us with option to check these guys if they need to go that way," Agarkar told the media during a virtual session. "If the need arises, we will look at that way but I don't think there is any need to speculate right now because we are hoping that Axar is fit," Agarkar said.