In a notable alteration to India’s cricket squad for the 2023 World Cup, experienced offspinner R Ashwin is set to replace the injured left-arm spinner, Axar Patel. Patel is in recovery from a quadriceps strain he incurred during the Asia Cup, necessitating approximately three more weeks to fully recuperate.
Axar Patel’s exit from the Asia Cup due to injury prompted the induction of Washington Sundar as his replacement. Meanwhile, R Ashwin and Washington were incorporated into the three-match ODI series against Australia, which saw India emerging victoriously with a 2-1 lead. This series marked Ashwin’s return to playing for India in ODIs after a hiatus of 18 months. Ashwin showcased his prowess by playing the initial two Australia matches, securing 1 for 47 and 3 for 41, before receiving rest for the third ODI in Rajkot, where Washington succeeded him.
The Deadline Drama
ICC’s stipulated deadline for unfettered alterations to World Cup squads was September 28. Post this date, any modifications necessitate the approval of the World Cup’s technical committee. This inclusion implies that Ashwin, alongside Virat Kohli, is one of the two players from the 2011 World Cup winning squad to feature in this team. Initially, Ashwin was not incorporated in the 15-man squad revealed by BCCI in August. The preference was given to Axar for his capability to deepen the batting lineup.
Experience in the Squad
India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, emphasized the invaluable experience Ashwin brings to the team:
Ashwin has got the class, he’s got experience of playing the sport and handling the pressure. But you cannot take away the class and the experience that the individual has over the years, and in the last couple of games [against Australia], we saw how well he bowled. He’s got a lot of variations up his sleeves.
The 37-year-old offspinner has a rich history, marked by 115 ODIs, where he has secured 155 wickets with an economy rate of 4.94. He debuted a year before the 2011 World Cup and contributed significantly to India’s triumph with four wickets in two matches. His journey also includes his participation in the 2015 World Cup in Australia, procuring 13 wickets in eight matches.
The Updated Squad
India’s refined World Cup squad is as follows:
- Rohit Sharma (captain)
- Shubman Gill
- Virat Kohli
- Shreyas Iyer
- KL Rahul (wk)
- Ishan Kishan (wk)
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Hardik Pandya (vice-capt)
- Ravindra Jadeja
- Kuldeep Yadav
- R Ashwin
- Shardul Thakur
- Jasprit Bumrah
- Mohammed Shami
- Mohammed Siraj
A New Phase
India’s Head Coach, Rahul Dravid, had initially assured no alterations to the World Cup squad. However, the evolving condition of Axar has prompted this unanticipated change, positioning Ashwin as the sole specialist offspinner in the squad, while Washington is scheduled to join India’s team for the Asian Games in China.
A Legacy of Commitment and Class
R Ashwin’s contribution and unwavering commitment to the sport have left an indelible mark. His myriad variations, extensive experience, and unparalleled class fortify India’s pursuit of World Cup glory.
India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, encapsulated the sentiment aptly:
He’s got the class, he’s got experience of playing the sport and handling the pressure… He’s got a lot of variations up his sleeves.
With these changes, India is gearing up for the upcoming challenges, aiming to leverage the seasoned experience and diverse skills of the players. The inclusion of Ashwin not only adds depth to the spin department but also brings a wealth of experience and strategic acumen to the team, bolstering India’s chances in the coveted tournament. All eyes are now on how these meticulous selections and strategies will translate into performances as the cricketing giants vie for the illustrious World Cup.