Team India head coach Rahul Dravid put the record straight on Ravichandran Ashwin’s inclusion for the three ODIs against Australia, saying a bowler of his calibre can’t be put on “trial”.
There is a strong possibility that the off-spinner will be included in the World Cup XV considering that there is a fitness cloud over Axar Patel, who is recovering from a quadriceps tear.
Ashwin has been called up alongside Washington Sundar for the series.
“I will not say that for him it is a trial or anything, we know his quality. This is a chance for him to play in this format and we just want to give him an opportunity to play in two or three games,” Dravid said during a media conference on the eve of the opener in Mohali.
“If we have a player like Ashwin, who we can rely upon if someone is injured, it’s a blessing for us. It’s a good chance for him to test himself because he has not played 50-over cricket for a long time,” Dravid said.
“Someone like Ashwin provides you that experience, that ability to also contribute with the bat at No. 8. Someone we always thought of that in case, there are certain opportunities opened, he is someone, who is definitely a part of your plans,” Dravid added.
Dravid also backed Suryakumar Yadav, who is under fire following an unimpressive record in the 50-over format.
“I don’t think Surya needs to worry... That’s not why we picked our team for the World Cup, and Surya is in it and we have made our decision to do that and we completely back it,” said Dravid.
“We back him because he has quality and ability that we have seen. Yes, we know, we have at the moment, seen it in T20 cricket but we know the kind of impact a player like him can make. He can change the course of a game and we completely back him, we are clear about that,” Dravid added.
The coach said Surya will play the first two games, if not all three, and he is confident that he will come good.
“There is total clarity on the fact that we are completely behind him and hopefully he will be able to turn it around.
“Hopefully, he is someone who will get these three games and at least the first couple certainly to be able to develop and continue his journey as
an ODI cricketer. But in
terms of selection, we made our decision.”
The head coach also clarified that the decision to rest seniors like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli for the first two matches has been taken after extensive discussions with the aim of having them in the best possible frame of mind for the World Cup.
“People like Virat and Rohit specifically, from our perspective, it’s really important to get them to that World Cup in a physical and mental space that they want to be in. They know how they need to prepare and a lot of these decisions are made in discussions with them,” Dravid said.
“Senior and more experienced guys have their routines and know how they want to prepare in the lead-up to a big event...
“I think, based on discussions, we came up with mutual decisions to just take them off and refresh mentally more than anything else. They would come back in Rajkot and then it will be a tough couple of months ahead for us.”