The decision to bring back Ravichandran Ashwin into India’s ODI squad for the upcoming series against Australia and potentially for the World Cup has sparked debates within the Indian cricket community. While some have supported the move due to limited spin-bowling all-rounder options, others have raised questions about Ashwin’s absence from the format for nearly 20 months. Opinions from former cricketers, including Mohammad Kaif and Irfan Pathan, highlight the differing perspectives on Ashwin’s return.
Ashwin, who last played an ODI for India in January 2022, was included in the squad after Axar Patel’s injury during the Asia Cup. Kaif, speaking on Star Sports’ YouTube channel, acknowledged that Ashwin’s return was a result of Axar’s injury, which typically requires two to three weeks of recovery. He emphasized that Ashwin’s experience and impressive wicket tally across formats in international cricket justified his selection.
“If Axar hadn’t been injured, then we wouldn’t have seen this move, and Ashwin would have never been in the scene. Now Axar has suffered a strain injury, which takes time to recover from. No matter what they say about him being back in a week, such injuries take at least 2-3 weeks to recover from. That’s why they went for the experience in Ashwin. And remember, there is no comparison between Ashwin and Sundar. He has 900 wickets (712) across formats!” Mohammad Kaif stated.
On the other hand, Irfan Pathan questioned the decision to recall a player who had not featured in the format for almost two years. While acknowledging Ashwin’s skill and expertise, he expressed concerns about the lack of planning regarding his return. Irfan believed that it would be unreasonable to expect Ashwin to perform exceptionally in a single series and become a key player for India in the World Cup without any match practice.
“You can find better spinners than Ashwin around the world. But in a tournament as significant as the World Cup, where there is immense pressure, you can’t rely on a senior player to walk in and prove his worth in a format he hasn’t played for a long time. It’s leaving it entirely to fate. There is no planning here,” Irfan Pathan remarked.
He further added, “If there was a plan for Ashwin, they should have given him some game time before the World Cup. Yes, he will be playing against Australia, but is that enough? Bowling ten overs, adjusting to the team, and delivering results for India is not easy. Planning should have been better.”
The upcoming Australia series, starting on September 22, will be closely watched, especially Ashwin’s performance as he returns to the ODI format after a significant hiatus. The decision to include him in the World Cup squad will likely depend on his form and contributions in the upcoming matches.