Following their series-clinching victory over Australia in the ODI series, the Indian cricket team is set to face the final match with some notable absentees and returning stars. In a resounding 99-run win over the Australians in the second ODI held in Indore, the Men in Blue secured a series victory and are now gearing up for the last match of the series with a few changes in their lineup.
Three key players – Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, and Shubman Gill – will not be part of the third ODI. According to reports from Cricbuzz, Axar Patel has been ruled out of the Rajkot ODI due to his incomplete recovery from a quadriceps strain that he sustained during the Asia Cup in 2023.
In contrast, Shubman Gill and Shardul Thakur will also miss the final ODI, although this is not due to any fitness concerns. They have been granted rest as part of a strategic decision. The Indian team management wants to ensure that these players are well-rested and ready for future fixtures, considering their importance to the squad.
On the flip side, there will be notable returns to the Indian squad for the final ODI. Star players Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya, and Kuldeep Yadav were rested for the first two games but will make their comeback in the series’ culmination.
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Chief selector Ajit Agarkar explained the rationale behind resting these key players, stating, “Rohit and Virat have been around forever. Hardik is an important player for us. We want to manage him. Kuldeep is in great form. It also gives us a chance to look at some of the other guys. That is the thinking. Luckily, we got a fair amount of cricket in the Asia Cup. If not, we would have looked at it some other way.”
In the case of Axar Patel, it’s worth noting that he was initially included in the squad only for the third ODI and was not part of the lineup for the first two matches. Agarkar expressed hope that Axar would recover in time for future matches, saying, “From what has been made known to us with Axar’s injury is that he should be okay. That’s a call we’ll make once we know that. Axar, unfortunately, picked up an injury in that game, and we are hopeful that he will be fit.”
As the Indian team prepares for the final ODI against Australia, these changes in the lineup reflect a strategic approach to player management and squad rotation, allowing the team to assess and utilize its talent pool effectively.