Team India's head coach Rahul Dravid has unveiled the plan to integrate seasoned off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin into the ODI squad for the upcoming home series against Australia. Dravid emphasized that Ashwin's inclusion was not merely a contingency plan for injuries but a calculated decision to harness his wealth of experience in the 50-over format.
Ashwin, who recently celebrated his 37th birthday, marks his return to the ODI arena following an injury to Axar Patel, who suffered a left quadriceps strain during the Asia Cup Super 4 match against Bangladesh, rendering him unavailable for the first two matches against Australia.
Dravid addressed the rationale behind Ashwin's recall during a pre-series press conference, shedding light on the significance of this decision.
Ashwin's batting ability played a big role in his selection: Rahul Dravid
He stated, “Having someone of Ashwin's experience to come back is always good for us. Ashwin provides you that experience, that ability to be able to also contribute with the bat at No.8 and is someone that we always thought of in case there were certain injuries or certain opportunities opened up.”
The former India captain reaffirmed Ashwin's integral role within the team, dispelling doubts about his limited recent appearances in ODI cricket. Dravid expressed confidence in Ashwin's ability to adapt.
Ravichandran Ashwin in the ODI Jersey.— Johns. (@CricCrazyJohns) September 21, 2023
He returns into ODI team after 20 months. pic.twitter.com/GhxadHhWWo
“He was definitely someone who was always a part of our plans. I know he hasn't played a lot of one-day cricket over the last bit, but someone of his experience probably can deal with that really well,” underscoring the all-rounder's value.
Ashwin's last ODI appearance for India dates back to January 2022, during a tour of South Africa. Despite his hiatus from the format, the coaching staff and selectors have recognized his potential to contribute significantly to India's campaign, both with his bowling prowess and his ability to wield the willow effectively in the lower order.
With Ashwin's inclusion, Team India not only strengthens its spin bowling department but also adds a dynamic element to its batting lineup, potentially bolstering the team's performance in crucial moments. As the series against Australia beckons, fans eagerly anticipate Ashwin's return to ODI action, eager to witness how his experience and skills will impact the team's fortunes on the field.