NEW DELHI: India captain Rohit Sharma emphasised that veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin remains a viable contender for India’s World Cup campaign, despite his omission from the provisional squad.
Initially, India’s 15-member squad for the World Cup on home soil featured Kuldeep Yadav as the sole specialist spinner, complemented by spin-bowling all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
However, when Axar Patel sustained an injury just prior to the Asia Cup final in Colombo, India opted to call upon Washington Sundar as a replacement, rather than the 37-year-old Ashwin.
In the end, off-spinner Sundar didn’t get the opportunity to bowl as India swiftly dismissed Sri Lanka in just 15.2 overs, securing a commanding 10-wicket victory.
Rohit clarified that Sundar’s selection should not be interpreted as an indication that Ashwin, who last featured in one-day internationals in January 2022 and boasts 113 caps, has fallen in the pecking order.
“As a spinner all-rounder, Ashwin is in line. I have been talking to him on the phone,” Rohit told reporters after India lifted the Asia Cup for the eighth time.
“The injury happened to Axar at the last minute. Washington was available, so he had to come and perform the role for us.
“He (Washington) was cricket-fit because he was part of the Asian Games camp.
“I have been very clear with players about their roles. Everyone is in the loop.”
Teams can make changes to their squads until Sept. 28.
While the victory was a timely boost ahead of the World Cup, batter Shreyas Iyer missed much of the Asia Cup, including the final, with a back spasm.
“Shreyas was not available for (the final) because certain parameters were kept for him to tick off,” Rohit explained.
“I should say he is alright 99% as of now.
“He looks good, he batted and fielded for long hours (in the nets), and he was on the ground long before we came to the ground. I don’t think it is a worry for us.”
India host Australia in a three-match ODI series later this month and the teams clash again on Oct. 8 in their World Cup opener in Chennai.
(With inputs from Reuters)