New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) One point which will keeps onlookers interested in India’s upcoming three-game ODI series against Australia is who between Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar will be a better option if Axar Patel doesn’t recover from the left quadriceps strain he suffered during the Asia Cup Super Four fixture against Bangladesh.
Amit Mishra, the veteran leg-spinner, feels the series will be a good indication of who between Ashwin and Washington would be the best option for the side, especially with the Men’s ODI World Cup on the horizon.
“By bringing both of them into the squad, the team think-tank wants to have a look at the duo so as to prepare in the situation of someone suffering an injury during the World Cup. If it happens, then team has information of who between these two can be drafted into the side and can fulfill us from every aspect.”
“They want to see who between them is the best option and suits the team’s requirements in case of an injury from a 50-over perspective, which is why they are included for series against Australia,” said Mishra, an expert with broadcasters JioCinema & Sports18, in a select virtual media interaction.
Ashwin, a member of India’s victorious 2011 World Cup campaign on home soil, has been called back to an ODI squad after nearly 18 months. He will be joining the ODI side after playing a VAP League match in Chennai and practising at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru.
Moreover, captain Rohit Sharma said after India won the Asia Cup that he was in constant communication with Ashwin. Washington, on the other hand, is very much like Ashwin with the ball, but offers more batting abilities.
He was flown quickly to Colombo and played in the Asia Cup final as Axar was ruled out due to injury, but didn’t bat or bowl. Since returning from a hamstring injury which ended his IPL 2023 early, Washington has played in domestic matches, as well as in India’s T20I series against Ireland.
“What if any of the spin bowlers get injured, then the team needs to have a wicket-taking option, which Ashwin brings. Ashwin has got an edge as an off-spin option, as India already has two left-arm spinners and a wrist-spinner in Kuldeep Yadav.”
“Indian team will be looking at how Ashwin will be bowling against Australia, and to assess if he still has the wicket-taking abilities in this format. Washington is a young player and has shown wicket-taking abilities apart from being a batting option. Plus, he provides an advantage with his fielding, something which holds importance in ODIs,” added Mishra, who played 36 ODIs for India.
With Ashwin and Washington included as well as Kuldeep Yadav rested for first two games, it meant there is still no room for leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal's inclusion. Chahal, currently playing county cricket for Kent, was excluded from the Men’s ODI World Cup squad, something which has been a big talking point.
“What happens in T20s is you bowl four overs, and then a batter or one-two all-rounders get the work done. But in a 50-over game, you need a bowler who can bowl ten overs and can provide some batting cover too whenever needed. The selectors and captain must have thought of it as a 50-over game is huge, so they need a bowler who can do both skills and be a great fielder too, as fielding in crucial moments can make a team win a match.”
“No doubt Chahal is a good bowler and has performed well, but selectors must have thought of having a bowler who can bat and field well. As of now, India has all-rounders in Jadeja, Axar and Hardik Pandya, who are adept in all three skills.”
“In spin, Kuldeep is a wicket-taker, while Jadeja and Axar can keep pressure with accurate line and length to get scalps. Those two provide left-handed batting option too, allowing the team to make them bat anywhere as per the situation. I feel these are the reasons why selectors and management must have thought over not selecting Chahal,” elaborated Mishra.
For Australia, the form of leg-spinner Adam Zampa will be vital. Zampa has taken 24 wickets in 14 ODIs in India, averaging 29.45 and economy rate of 5.65, with best figures of 4/45 taken in Australia’s 21-run win in Chennai this year.
Zampa is coming into the series after taking eight wickets in four ODIs against South Africa, including being taken for 0-113 as South Africa batters smashed 416 at Centurion. Mishra thinks Indian batters need to be careful in playing against him.
“Adam Zampa has been playing cricket for long and played in the IPL too. So, he’s well-aware about the wickets and conditions in India, as well as of their batters’ play, which gives him the edge.”
“He shouldn’t be taken lightly as he’s had good performances for the Australian team. The one thing that stands out in his bowling is that he’s quick in the air while using his pace and variations, just like Rashid Khan, which Indian batters have to look out for,” he concluded.
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