Former Indian pacer Irfan Pathan expressed surprise over Team India's last-minute decision to include senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in their squad for the upcoming three-match ODI series against Australia.
This move comes as the team scrambles to finalize its World Cup squad before the looming September 28 deadline, following an injury to Axar Patel, which opened up a vacancy for a spin-bowling all-rounder. Despite Ashwin's legendary status in Test cricket, his presence in the 50-over format has been scarce, with his last ODI appearance dating back to January 2022.
Ravichandran Ashwin's selection is a gamble: Irfan Pathan
Pathan, in conversation with Star Sports, voiced his concerns regarding Ashwin's selection after a prolonged absence from ODIs, emphasizing the lack of strategic planning.
“You can't get a better spinner than Ashwin in the entire world. But in a tournament as significant as the World Cup, where the pressure is immense, relying on a senior player who hasn't played this format in a long time is a gamble. So you are leaving it entirely to fate. There is no planning here,” Pathan remarked.
Furthermore, Pathan stressed the importance of better planning to provide Ashwin with more opportunities in ODIs leading up to the World Cup. “Had there been a plan for Ashwin, they should have given him some game time before the World Cup. Yes, he will be playing against Australia, but is that enough? You have to bowl for 10 overs, adjust in the team as well, and deliver results for India. It isn't that simple. The planning should have been more thoughtful,” he added.
Ashwin, aged 37, last participated in the South Africa series in January of the previous year, managing just one wicket while conceding 121 runs in two matches. Prior to this, he had been absent from the ODI format since mid-2017, with only two ODI appearances for the veteran spinner since 2018. This raises questions about his readiness to perform in a crucial role for the national team in the forthcoming World Cup.