Ashwin last played an ODI more than 18 months ago, and his selection is a chance for the team management to have him ready, along with Washington, should they need a replacement for Axar Patel, who has a left quadriceps strain that ruled him out of the Asia Cup final. Ashwin has been training at the NCA over the past week along with spin consultant Sairaj Bahutule, even as the national team was away at the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.
“Luckily we got a fair amount of cricket at the Asia Cup,” Agarkar said. “If not, we would’ve looked at it some other way. More than physical, sometimes guys need a mental break, which isn’t a bad thing leading into a tournament like the World Cup.
“For the third game, everyone will be available. We will play our World Cup squad. This [squad for the first two ODIs] gives us a chance to give guys sitting outside a chance. It’s still a strong squad. Like I said, if we hadn’t got a lot of cricket at the Asia Cup, who knows, we may have thought differently.”
The three-match series against Australia, which begins on September 22, is India’s last ODI assignment before the World Cup and it presents a chance for highly-rated middle-order batter Tilak Varma to push his case at the highest level. He has been picked for the first two games along with Ruturaj Gaikwad, who will lead India at the Asian games.
India’s squad for Australia series
For first two ODIs: KL Rahul (capt), Ravindra Jadeja (vice-capt), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar
For third ODI: Rohit Sharma (capt), Hardik Pandya (vice-capt), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel (subject to fitness), R Ashwin, Washington Sundar