Come Friday, Ravichandran Ashwin is all set to make his maiden ODI appearance in 20 months when India take on Australia in a three-match ODI series at home, in what will be their last and final assignment heading into the ODI World Cup. Ahead of the series, Ashwin, in a bid to prepare for ODI cricket and possible appearance in ODI World Cup as well for the first time since 2015, featured in a domestic game in Tamil Nadu.
Ashwin was far from reckoning to be in the scheme of things for the World Cup. The last time he featured in an ODI game was in the tour of South Africa in January 2022 where he had played two matches. Those were in fact his only appearances in the format in six years. But with Ashwin never been recalled for another ODI series, he fell out of reckoning, until Axar Patel’s injury during an Asia Cup game last week, which suddenly opened up the spot for a spin-bowling all-rounder.
In fact, Ashwin was the first to be reached out to, according to a report in Mid-Day, when Axar had incurred a tear in his quadriceps, but the offer was turned down as he admitted that he wasn’t in the best shape for the match in such a short notice. Hence Washington Sundar was flown in at the last moment and was later picked in the XI as well although he neither bowled nor batted.
Ashwin was however added to the squad for the Australia series with team management slated to test him and Sundar for the vacant post in the home contest before Axar returns for the third, albeit subject to fitness clearance.
Ahead of the series, which begins from September 22 onwards in Mohali, Ashwin, in a bid to prepare for ODI cricket, appeared in a 50-over match for his club side MRC-A in the ongoing VAP trophy organised by the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association.
Ashwin bowled a tight spell in the second-division game, picking up a wicket as well. He ended with figures of 10-0-30-1, which comprised of 34 dot balls and just a solitary boundary. He also batted at No. 7 in the match, scoring 12 off 17.
Despite Ashwin’s inactivity in the format, captain Rohit Sharma, speaking to the media on Monday after the squad announcement, admitted that he is banking on the veteran bowler’s experience and his rather eager to try him out in the series.
“With the kind of experience Ashwin has, has played close to 100 Tests, 115 ODIs…yes it is all in the past but he has been consistently playing Test cricket. With guys like Ashwin, game-time and time on the ground is not so much of a concern. This is why we thought if he is an option for us, we need to get him in. With the kind of experience he has, for guys like him, it’s all in the head more than the body. I thought getting him in could give us a chance to understand where he is at, how his body is and stuff like that,” Rohit said.