After successfully winning the Asia Cup, Team India’s next assignment is the three-match ODIs against Australia, which will kick-start from Friday. On Monday, skipper Rohit Sharma and BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar announced the squad for the upcoming series. All-rounder Ravichandran has earned a surprise call-up as he will be playing his first ODI since January, 2022. Ashwin, who is India’s highest Test wicket-taker among active cricketers, has been named in the place of an injured Axar Patel and will aim to make the most from the given opportunity.

The last date to submit the final squad for the ODI World Cup 2023 in September 28 and Ashwin’s place in the team for the marquee event is still uncertain. However, former Sri Lanka captain Arjun Ranatunga, who led the team to a World Cup win in 1996, stated that the inclusion of Ashwin in the team will strengthen India’s spin-attack and will be a huge support for Kuldeep Yadav in many matches.

“I don’t know whether India has two proper spinners. They have good all-rounders, who happen to be spinners but I can’t see a proper spinner in this side. On Indian pitches, they need a strong group of spinners. If not, it would be a disadvantage for India. Of course, there is Kuldeep Yadav, he can be a match-winner as he showed against Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup,” Ranatunga told Indian Express.

“He is pretty clever from what I see, especially when it comes to using the variations. But you need one more to support him who could contain and attack because teams will try to target him and unsettle. Especially when you play against England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, sometimes you might have to play 3 spinners without affecting the balance of the team. And India doesn’t have a batsman who can bowl. Jadeja who bowls, bats at No 7,” he added.

Ranatunga further said that in order to be “firm favourites”, Team India need to have a “balanced” all-round attack.

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“You take Pakistan and England, they have proper spinners. So that is something I’m sure India will address before the World Cup. They are looking more at the all-rounders like Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, but I personally feel that they should have someone like R Ashwin in the squad, if not in the XI. When he plays, he can be a match-winner for you,” he said.

“He may be slightly older, he might be slightly slow on the field, but you need guys in the sub-continent who can contain and can take wickets. Sides that want to win most of the games, they do so by taking wickets and for that you need to have a balanced all-round attack. If someone like Anil Kumble is in that side then I will tag them as firm favourites, but they have a problem to address with their spinners,” he added.

The ODI series against Australia is the final dress rehearsal for hosts India before the 2023 Cricket World Cup, starting on October 5.

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