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IND Vs AUS: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli Rested For First Two ODIs; KL Rahul To Lead

The BCCI announced India's ICC World Cup-bound squad for the third ODI against Australia. India will open their World Cup campaign against Australia on October 8.

Updated: September 18, 2023 9:43 PM IST

By Koushik Paul

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India captain Rohit Sharma (L) and chief selector Ajit Agarkar. (Image: BCCI)

Mumbai: Regular captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been rested for the first two ODIs against Australia, the BCCI announced on Monday. In Rohit’s absence, KL Rahul will be leading the side. However, the BCCI has named the World Cup-bound 15-member squad for the third ODI against Australia. Meanwhile, Ravichandran Ashwin has returned to the side for the first two ODIs.

Notably, Ashwin is making a comeback to the Indian ODI side after 20 months. He last played for India in an ODI against South Africa, in January 2022. “It’s all in the head for players like him,” said Rohit when asked if Ashwin’s lack of game time in ODIs will be a concern.

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Meanwhile, the Indian team will be travelling the most among the 10 sides in the World Cup as the Men in Blue will play in nine different venues. Rohit downplayed the challenges of travelling and said, “I don’t think it’s going to be a big challenge for us but there are a certain guidelines and protocols set for us to ensure that we deliver our best.”

Responding to a query on why there are two different teams for a three-match ODI series, the Indian captain said they wanted to take a look at the bench strength. “We want to make sure that our bench strength has got some games under their belt. We have been travelling quite a lot and a similar thing will happen in the World Cup too.

“We have the opportunity to test some players and checking the bench strength is important too,” added Rohit. BCCI chief selector, who was also present during the virtual press conference, hoped all-rounder Axar Patel will be fine before the third ODI against Australia.

Ashwin could be drafted into the Indian team for the World Cup if Axar doesn’t get fit before the September 28 deadline set by the ICC. Axar has sustained a quadriceps tear during the recently held Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.

“Few of the guys have obviously been given a breather for the first couple of games. Axar has picked an injury unfortunately and we are hopeful that he will be fit. That’s why the two (spinners have been added),” said Agarkar.

“Washington Sundar was already part of the squad for finals and Ashwin brings experience. So it just gives us options just in case, there is a need at some stage to look at a couple of guys. Basically those are the two guys that we need to look at if the need arises at some stage. But apart from that I think it’s pretty straightforward,” said the former India seamer.

Asked about Shreyas Iyer’s status, Rohit said, “He has not picked up a stress fracture, otherwise he would not have been in the squad. In the finals day, he got through his program fine, whether it is batting or fielding. At the moment, he is fit and that is why we have picked him.

“And we are hopeful that he gets through all these three games. He has worked incredibly hard over the last many months to be at this stage to be fit and fortunately for him it was not a massive injury (the niggle) that he picked up. At the moment he is fine.”

Tilak Varma and Prasidh Krishna, who were in the Asia Cup 2023 squad, have also been named for the first two games. Washington Sundar, who was flown in a replacement for injured Axar for the Asia Cup 2023 final, have been named for all three ODIs against Australia.

Meanwhile, Ruturaj Gaikwad, who has been named India captain for the Asian Games, has also been included in the squad for the first two games against Australia. 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 1st & 2nd ODIs: KL Rahul (C), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, Ravichandran Ashwin, Washington Sundar.

India Squad vs Australia for 3rd ODI: Rohit Sharma (captain), Hardik Pandya, (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul (wicketkeeper), Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel (subject to fitness), Washington Sundar, Kuldeep Yadav, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Mohammed Siraj.

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