Though the senior ranks return, India will be forced into changes and field another rotated side as it attempts a series sweep against Australia in the third One-Day International in Rajkot on Wednesday.
India’s World Cup dress rehearsal, drawing to a culmination soon, hit a temporary snag before the dead rubber with multiple players being dropped from the squad due to sickness or personal reasons.
“We have got players who are sick and not available. Some have personal reasons and they have gone home. Some are rested as well. We have got 13 players at this point in time. Shubman Gill is rested. Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur, and Hardik Pandya have gone home. Axar Patel is not available for this game. There is a bit of viral going around. There is a bit of uncertainty right now which we cannot help. Looking at the next few weeks it is important to look after the players,” said captain Rohit Sharma on the eve of the match.
Amidst this, four Saurashtra players including Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and Prerak Mankad went through fielding drills during India’s training session to fill in as substitutes and complete the 15-member roster.
But it will take more to dent the morale of this India side, high on the resounding win in the second ODI in Indore on Sunday.
In Gill’s absence, Ishan Kishan will step in at the top with Rohit. In his seven essays as an opener, Kishan has scored 448 runs at 74.66. Kishan’s promotion, in turn, will open spots for Suryakumar Yadav and Shreyas Iyer to carry the momentum from their previous knocks and make a final push for a middle-order slot.
The additions of Rohit and Virat Kohli ensure India has ample batting ammunition to tackle an Australia bowling unit that might see the return of Mitchell Starc.
“The recovery is on track. The priority is always the World Cup. We will see how today goes, and see how I pull up in the morning. The goal is to play tomorrow but we’re not compromising the World Cup,” the pacer said on Tuesday.
Glenn Maxwell and Pat Cummins also attended the net session on the eve of the match raising the visitor’s hopes of turning around its fortunes. With the weight of injuries beginning to ease, Australia will hope to snap its five-match losing streak.
With its big guns out, Australia has been a shadow of itself with the ball, leaking runs in PowerPlay and death overs alike.
The only silver lining for the visitor in this series has been the consecutive fifties for David Warner. The 36-year-old, with 334 runs in eight innings, is now the second-highest run scorer for Australia in 2023 in ODIs, leapfrogging Mitchell Marsh.
Warner’s tug-off with Ashwin could again be the highlight of the contest. The Indian outfoxed Warner in the second ODI after the latter played a right-handed sweep against him.
The outing in Rajkot will be Ashwin’s third throw of the dice in Axar’s absence. The off-spinner showed no signs of rusting and scalped four wickets in the first two games. Though India remains firm on its stance that Axar will play the World Cup, Ashwin will be waiting to lap up the final and 15th spot on the roster if the need arises.
- ICC World Cup 2023: The untimely demise of Shakib’s strengths against the short ball
- FIFA World Cup 2034 to be played in Saudi Arabia, confirms Infantino
- PAK vs BAN: Fakhar says Pakistan is targetting semifinal spot, admits defeat to India hurt morale
- PAK vs BAN: Pakistan keeps World Cup semifinal hopes alive after beating Bangladesh by seven wickets
- Saudi Arabia sole bidder to host FIFA World Cup 2034