Veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was on Thursday officially added to India’s ICC World Cup squad as a late entrant in place of injured left-arm spinner Axar Patel.
According to a statement from the International Cricket Council (ICC), Axar has failed to recover in time for the World Cup after sustaining a left quadriceps strain during India’s Asia Cup Super Four encounter against Bangladesh. The spin-bowling all-rounder missed the final of the Asia Cup as a result.
Ashwin, who was called back to the ODI squad for the just-concluded one-day series against Australia, was impressive in the two outings, returning with four wickets from two outings. He did not take part in the third and final ODI in Rajkot, with India already clinching the series 2-1.
Meanwhile, Axar was named conditionally in the squad for the final ODI, subject to his fitness but missed the game which India lost by 66 runs.
The 37-year-old Ashwin has featured in the 2011 and 2015 editions of the ODI World Cups, and scalped 13 wickets in the 2015 edition in which India reached the semifinals. Accordingly, Ashwin landed in Guwahati on Thursday along with the rest of the squad for the upcoming World Cup warm-up fixture against England on September 30.
The Indian team will train at the Amingaon cricket ground, here on Friday before taking the field against the English team.
Backing Ashwin’s return to the ODI scheme of things while announcing the squad for the Australia series, skipper Rohit Sharma had said that the off-spinner was a proven customer and needed only a couple of innings to get his rhythm back.
After Wednesday’s encounter, Rohit made it clear that India are clear in their plans for the 15-member squad for the World Cup, indicating that the off-spinner could make the squad in place of Patel, who is currently recovering at the BCCI’s National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
“When we talk about the 15 we are very clear what we want. We are not confused, we know where we are headed as a team,” said Rohit after the Rajkot match.
Rohit and a few senior players like Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohammed Siraj returned to action in Rajkot after being rested for the first two ODIs, while the likes of Shubman Gill, Shardul Thakur, Ashwin, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Shami skipped the final game as part of the Indian cricket board’s rotation policy.
“It’s a team sport and we want everyone to come and play their part – that’s how we win championships. It’s about looking after the body and try and stay fresh for the next one and half months,” Rohit said.
India will begin their World Cup campaign on October 8 against five-time Champions Australia in Chennai. Before the tournament, Rohit Sharma’s men will play two warm-up fixtures, the first against England on Saturday at the ACA Barsapara Cricket Stadium, Guwahati followed by the Netherlands at the Greenfield International Stadium, Thiruvananthapuram on October 3.
India World Cup squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Hardik Pandya (VC), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (WK), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin Ishan Kishan (WK), Suryakumar Yadav.