Ravichandran Ashwin finds himself in contention for a World Cup spot despite lack of game time but it doesn’t concern skipper Rohit Sharma one bit.
The 37-year-old Ashwin, who last played an ODI in January 2022, was picked for the upcoming three ODIs against Australia alongside Washington Sundar. Both the off-spinners will be fighting for that potential World Cup spot if Axar Patel doesn’t get fit in time for the global event beginning October 5.
“With the kind of experience Ashwin has, close to 100 Tests (94), close to 150 ODIs (113) and yes it is all in the past but he has been consistently playing Test cricket and with guys like Ashwin having game time is not so much of a concern,” said Rohit after the squad was announced for Australia series beginning September 22.
“…with guys like him, it’s all in the head, more than body and the stuff. We made the decision speaking to him and understanding where he is at with regards to his body and stuff like that.
“It’s not like he is not playing any cricket. Yes, he hasn’t played the format but he has been playing Test cricket in West Indies, and if I am not wrong, played TNPL as well and although no comparison there but there is still some cricket there, and it gives us chance to look at how he is bowling,” he said.
The selectors have rested in-form Kuldeep Yadav for the first two ODIs.
Asked if that was done to keep an element of surprise in the World Cup, Rohit said, “Kuldeep is a wrist spinner and needs rhythm but we also deliberated that his bowling form is great and as Ajit (chief selector) said we needed to give some of the players chance as they played only one match in Asia Cup and are there in WC squad and we needed to check them as well.
“Kuldeep, we have seen for last 18 months and we didn’t want to expose him. He will be playing in the last match and the best decision to see him is in 3rd match. We have two practice games and he will be back in bowling rhythm,” said the skipper.
Rest given to senior players in the first two ODIs will provide opportunity for fringe players like Tilak Varma and Ruturaj Gaikwad. “Our endeavour is to give everyone a chance. If we only play 11 through the year, then you can’t create bench strength. You can see that some other teams are facing injury problems because it also involves lot of travelling and we have to play 11 matches and crisscross the country,” Rohit said when asked about travelling involved over the course of the World Cup.
“So, we will have a lot of travelling and a lot of matches. We want to make sure that some of the guys sitting out have enough confidence by playing a few games and not like suddenly they are thrown in. Eventually players need to be ready and anyone can be called at any time.
“You need to remain strong and sportspersons need to be ready. If you are summoned, you need to perform as we have seen for years, chances do come. Bench strength is important and we always try to find a chance to give people chance,” he added.