With stalwarts Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, and Hardik Pandya taking a break for the initial matches, it’s a pivotal moment for head coach Rahul Dravid to assess India’s bench strength.
Amidst this high-stakes encounter, two Mumbai-based batsmen, Shreyas Iyer and Suryakumar Yadav, are locked in personal battles to secure their places in the all-important World Cup squad.
KL Rahul, a wicketkeeper-batter, has been appointed as India’s captain for the first two games of the upcoming three-match series against Australia. This series is significant as it serves as a final dress rehearsal for India ahead of the ODI World Cup. Rahul has led the Indian ODI side in seven
India’s three-game series against Australia will test Shreyas Iyer’s fitness and Suryakumar Yadav’s ODI record, as they prepare for the World Cup. With Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, and Hardik Pandya resting for the first two games, head coach Rahul Dravid will assess his bench strength,
Australian cricketer Steve Smith has expressed his excitement ahead of his return to the team after recovering from a wrist injury. Smith had torn a tendon in his left wrist during the Ashes Test.
Shreyas Iyer, at the age of 28, stands at a crossroads in his career. Limited cricketing action in the last six months due to a stress fracture surgery has raised concerns about his match fitness. A recent episode of a stiff back just before an Asia Cup match against Pakistan added to the worries.
While chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar has given the green light for Iyer to participate in the three-game series, the true test lies in whether his body can withstand the demands of playing 100 overs over the next five days.
Iyer’s reputation as a formidable batter of spin bowling in the middle overs could be an invaluable asset for India in the upcoming World Cup.
Suryakumar’s ODI aspirations
Meanwhile, Suryakumar Yadav, popularly known as ‘SKY,’ has soared in T20Is, but he faces the challenge of carving a niche for himself in the realm of ODI cricket. Despite having 27 ODIs under his belt, his average of less than 25 begs the question of his suitability in the 50-over format. While he may not be a regular starter in the World Cup XI, he’s determined to convince the team management of his worth.
The emergence of young talent Tilak Varma puts pressure on Suryakumar’s position, and at the age of 33, this may be his final opportunity to feature in a 50-over World Cup.
‘Ash’ gets a chance
An unexpected door has opened for the seasoned 37-year-old Ravichandran Ashwin due to a small quadriceps tear suffered by left-arm spinner Axar Patel. If Axar doesn’t recover in time, Ashwin could make his third and potentially final appearance in a 50-over World Cup.
Remarkably, just two weeks ago, Ashwin wasn’t even in contention, but now he finds himself in competition with his younger state-mate Washington Sundar for a spot in the squad.
Recent buzz suggests that Ashwin, even if he doesn’t perform exceptionally well in the upcoming matches, stands a better chance of inclusion compared to Washington. The prospect of Ashwin locking horns with David Warner and Steve Smith promises to be a treat for cricket enthusiasts.
The absence of Kuldeep Yadav and Hardik Pandya presents both Ashwin and Washington with an opportunity to showcase their skills to the team.
However, it’s important to note that even if Ashwin excels, the team management may opt for Axar if he regains fitness in time for the third ODI. Typically, a small tear takes around two weeks to heal, and for a spinner, it is a less severe injury compared to fast bowlers, who require more time to recover. India remains optimistic about Axar’s fitness ahead of the World Cup.
Team composition and bowler workload
With Rohit Sharma absent from the top order, Ishan Kishan is likely to open alongside Shubman Gill, while Shreyas Iyer fills in for Virat Kohli, who needs valuable game time. The workload management of fast bowlers, particularly Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj, will be a key consideration given the tight schedule, including three 50-over games in five days and travel commitments.
Australia, the team to beat in WC
Australia, despite a recent 2-3 series loss to South Africa, remain a formidable team. Their victory in the last ODI series in India in March and their track record of success in subcontinental conditions make them strong contenders for the World Cup. Worth noting is that India and Australia will clash again on October 8 during the marquee event.
Australia’s bowling attack faces a stern test on subcontinent pitches known for favouring batsmen.
India:KL Rahul (C & WK), Ravindra Jadeja (Vice-captain), Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan (wicketkeeper), Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Prasidh Krishna.
Australia: Pant Cummins (Captain), Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Adam Zampa, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Starc, Steve Smith, David Warner, Josh Heselwood, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanvir Sangha, Matt Short.
Match Starts: 1:30 pm.
(With inputs from PTI)