India have been forced to make a late change to their 15-member squad for the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
Axar Patel has failed to recover in time for the World Cup after sustaining a left quadriceps strain during India’s Asia Cup Super Four encounter against Bangladesh. The spin-bowling all-rounder missed the final of the Asia Cup as a result.
Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has been named his replacement, who was impressive on his return to ODI cricket in the recently concluded series against Australia where he picked up four wickets in two games.
Axar too was named conditionally in the squad for the final ODI subject to his fitness but missed the game which India lost by 66 runs in Rajkot.
India have banked on the experience of Ashwin to fill the void left by Axar. Additionally, Ashwin brings in an off-spinning option that was previously missing in India's World Cup squad, which could prove to be crucial in the 46-day-long tournament when pitches begin to deteriorate.
The 37-year-old also has the familiarity of playing on the big stage, having featured in the 2011 and 2015 editions of the World Cup for India. In the tournament Down Under, Aswhin scalped 13 wickets in eight matches in India's run into the semi-final.
Rohit Sharma made it clear in the aftermath of the three-match ODI series against Australia that India are clear in their plans for the 15-member squad for the World Cup and any changes will not hamper their approach at the tournament.
“When we talk about the 15 we are very clear what we want,” the skipper said. “We are not confused, we know where we are headed as a team.
“It's a team sport and we want everyone to come and play their part - that's how we win championships. It's about looking after the body and try and stay fresh for the next one and half months.”
Despite Axar missing the World Cup, India have almost a full-strength side at their disposal with KL Rahul, Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah all making successful comeback from long-term injuries.
All three stars have made vital contributions in the games leading up to the tournament. Rahul announced his comeback with an incredible century against arch-rival Pakistan in the Super Four Asia Cup encounter. Iyer too struck a ton in the second ODI against Australia.
Bumrah has shown glimpses of returning to his best, which included a fiery spell against Pakistan in the Super Fours of the Asia Cup. The ace pacer put on a death bowling clinic against Australia in the final ODI after going for a run in his first two spells.
India begin their World Cup campaign on 7 October against Chennai against five-time Champions Australia. Before the tournament, Rohit Sharma's men will play two warm-up fixtures, the first against England on 30 September followed by the Netherlands on 3 October.
India World Cup squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.
All the squads for the event in India will be finalised today. You can check out the ten squads here.