safari staff
18 Sep 2023 | 05:34 PM

No need to speculate: Ajit Agarkar on Axar Patel's World Cup participation

The India chief selector is also hopeful Shreyas Iyer will play a part in all three ODIs against Australia

India have announced the squad for the series against Australia, with Axar Patel, who sustained an injury in the Asia Cup game against Bangladesh, named only for the third One-Day International (ODI). However, he will play only if he is fully fit.

Axar is part of India's squad for the World Cup, but his injury has opened the door for Washington Sundar and Ravichandran Ashwin. Sundar, in fact, did replace Axar in the Asia Cup final, where he neither batted nor bowled as India skittled Sri Lanka out for just 50 and chased it down in just 6.1 overs.

Speaking of the inclusion of Ashwin and Sundar, chief selector Ajit Agarkar said, "There are a couple of guys anyway, both him and Washington. What we know with Axar's injury is that he should be okay. All will make it once we know that. But at least it leaves us with options. 

"If these guys get a couple of games now, [it] gives the team management a few options if they need to go that way. If the need arises, we will probably have a look at it at that stage. But I don't think there is the need to speculate right now or make any decisions right now because we are hoping that Axar is fit."

However, Agarkar hoped that Axar will be fit for the World Cup. "Axar has picked an injury unfortunately and we are hopeful that he will be fit. That's why the two [spinners have been added]," Agarkar said.

"Washington Sundar was already part of the squad for finals, and Ashwin brings experience. So it just gives us options just in case there is a need at some stage to look at a couple of guys. Basically, those are the two guys that we need to look at if the need arises at some stage. But apart from that, I think it's pretty straightforward."

While Ashwin has played just a couple of ODIs since 2017, India skipper Rohit Sharma believes that his lack of matches in the format will not be an issue.

"Ravi Ashwin has played close to 150 ODIs and 100 Tests, if he's an option for us, then he should be in. He might've not played this format, but has played good enough cricket," Rohit said.

Rohit is also stressed about giving game time to every player in the squad, as you never know when they could come in handy at the World Cup.

"We try our best to play everyone we pick in the squad. We won't be able to build the bench strength if we keep playing the same XI. There are 11 matches in the World Cup, so we've got to take a note of that," he said.

Along with Rohit, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested for the first two games against Australia. Speaking of the move to rest Kuldeep, Rohit says that the team does not want to expose him too much in order to keep the mystery intact. Kuldeep was in top form in the Asia Cup, where he picked up nine wickets in five matches at an economy rate of 3.61.

"Kuldeep is a rhythm bowler, we all know that," India captain Rohit Sharma said. "But we thought of a lot of things and took this call. His bowling is going well, like Ajit [Agarkar] said, we had to give players a chance, especially those who played just one game at the Asia Cup and are in the World Cup squad," the skipper said.

"We have been looking at Kuldeep for the last one, one and a half years, this is why we don't want to expose him a lot. He is coming back for the last match. There are a lot of reasons. This is the best decision for us, to have him sit out for two games and play the third. We also have two practice matches [before the World Cup opener], so for the bowling rhythm, he will be back in it."

Speaking of Shreyas Iyer, Agarkar said that he had not pied up any new injury, and is hopeful that he plays a role in all the three matches against Australia.

"e has not picked up a stress fracture, otherwise, he would not have been in the squad. On the finals day, he got through his program fine, whether it was batting or fielding. At the moment, he is fit and that is why we have picked him. And we are hopeful that he gets through all these three games," Agarkar said.

"He has worked incredibly hard over the last many months to be at this stage to be fit and fortunately for him, it was not a massive injury [the niggle] that he picked up., At the moment, he is fin,e."

India kickstart the ODI series against Australia on September 22 in Mohali before heading to Indore (September 24) and Rajlot (September 27) for the second and third ODIs, respectively.

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