The Indian cricket squad welcomes the return of the highly skilled spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, after a 20-month absence for the upcoming bilateral series versus Australia. This occasion will serve as a stepping stone for the team’s opening match for next month’s World Cup. The Australian series is the last chance for India to prepare before the global tournament’s spotlight is on them. The return of Ashwin, who is crucial to the team, comes at a pivotal time, with the deadline for final squad confirmation looming on September 27.
Ashwin’s return was triggered by the injury of all-rounder Axar Patel during the Asia Cup Super 4 match against Bangladesh earlier. Instead of Ashwin, Washington Sundar was the chosen replacement for the final game and was also included in the squad for the Australian series. However, Ashwin was given precedence over the younger player for the first ODI in Mohali.
Dinesh Karthik, the star wicketkeeper-batter for Team India, shed light on why Ashwin was the preferred choice for the ODI series. According to Karthik, the team management had initially approached Ashwin for the Asia Cup final. However, Ashwin declined the offer as he felt he wasn’t “match ready.” He suggested that Washington Sundar should be the one to play since he had been actively participating in local tournaments in Chennai and was at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) at the time.
Karthik explained, “They had a conversation, and Ashwin felt he wasn’t match-ready yet. So, he said it’s better if I don’t come to this game, because Washington was playing. He was playing in local tournaments in Chennai and he was in NCA. So, they sent Sundar for that one game.”
After playing a couple of local club matches, Ashwin was finally selected. It is evident that Ashwin was the first choice for the team management, even though it may have seemed misleading to Washington Sundar.
The BCCI released a video interview with Ashwin on Friday, where he shared that the board had kept him informed after the Test series against West Indies in August. Ashwin had returned home after the two Tests while most of the team remained in the Caribbean for three ODIs and five T20Is.
Ashwin shared, “I came back from the West Indies, took a break, played in a few club games. The team management kept me in the loop, whenever they said there could be a chance. Stay ready, just in case. I was touching base with my fitness, started bowling a few sessions.”
This series is a significant stride for Team India as they prepare for the World Cup, and the return of their talented spinner, Ashwin, adds a strong edge to their game strategy.