Ashwin’s chances: Rohit doesn’t rule out last-minute change in India’s WC squad

Rajkot, (UNI) India skipper Rohit Sharma did not rule out a last-minute change in India’s World Cup squad with veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin making a strong case before the deadline on 28 September.

While Ashwin had been absent from the ODI scene, barring the sporadic appearance in a couple of games in 2022, Rohit stressed that it should not undermine the off-spinner’s cricketing prowess, which he displayed in Indore in the second ODI against Australia.

“You cannot take away the class and the experience that the individual has over the years and in the last couple of games we saw how well he bowled,” Rohit noted, acknowledging Ashwin’s exceptional skills.

Recent performances demonstrated that Ashwin has not lost his touch in the shorter formats, showcasing a variety of skills that could prove invaluable in crunch situations during a tournament like the World Cup.

“He’s got a lot of variation up his sleeves and in case there is a chance, we can look at a lot of things. So hopefully, the way things are at this point in time, it does well for us because we’ve got all the backups and everything ready as well.

“We’ve given them enough game time, a lot of time in the middle as well. So pretty much happy with how things have planned out in the last couple of weeks.”

With Axar Patel still nursing an injury that will see him miss the third ODI against Australia as well, and the deadline closing in, Ashwin stands a chance to edge his way into the final squad.

“We have got only 13 players to choose from, and there is a bit of viral [sickness] going around in the team as well, so there is a lot of uncertainty in the team at this point, which we cannot help,” Rohit stated.

“The next few weeks, it’s quite important for us to look after the players and their well-being, so it’s okay for them to be home at this point in time, but the reason being obviously we want everybody to be fresh during the World Cup and hopefully they can come back fresh.”

The skipper also played down the No.1 ranking that India scaled during the ODI series, stating that it does not really matter.

“It doesn’t really matter what kind of ranking you go within or what sort of performances you’ve had in the past,” Rohit said.

“Yes, it’s a good positive thing to take forward, but you know that the sport these days is played at present. So we got to play very good cricket in the present day, not worry about what has happened in the past, what in terms of the ranking, where we stand and stuff like that.

“You got to play good cricket and you got to stay in the present. For us, you know, that is very critical. Everybody stays in the present, doing their job, putting the hand up when the team needs them to do it and things like that.

“So I think, I don’t think anyone will be worried about the rankings at this point because we have bigger things to worry about.”

Rohit pointed out that India have challenged themselves in the Asia Cup and the Australia series to get ready as much as possible for the home World Cup.

“You play all these games and you try to improve whatever you lack. So we have done the same in the last two tournaments. These two matches that we played with Australia and also in the Asia Cup, we challenged our team by putting ourselves in difficult situations, played in difficult conditions.

“So I think preparation-wise, we have achieved quite a bit. Tomorrow’s game obviously allows us to again test ourselves in certain areas of the game, whether we can keep up with the consistency that we have, that we have shown in these last two games.

“There is a bigger goal, bigger picture in mind at this point in time. So focusing on that will be very crucial for us and not worry about whether [we] whitewash (Australia).”

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