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How Ashwin's inclusion in World Cup 2023 squad is a boon for Team India

Cricket World Cup 2023: Ravichandran Ashwin’s vast experience and plenty variations help India balancing the side.

ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023: Ravichandran Ashwin makes it to India's world Cup 2023 squad |  Walking Wicket (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)
Ashwin makes it to India's world Cup 2023 squad (Images: ©ICC/Twitter)

On the penultimate week before the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023, hosts India have declared their final 15 for the tournament. One significant change is the addition of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin - who has replaced the left-arm spinner Axar Patel.

Patel left the Asia Cup with a quadriceps strain, and needs at least three more weeks to recover fully.

September 28 was the deadline for the teams to make changes without any questions as per the ICC’s regulations. From the very next day, any further changes will need the consent of the World Cup’s technical committee.

India’s final ODI World 2023 Squad

Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya (vc), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammad Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Ishan Kishan, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur.

This means Ashwin joins Kohli as one of the only two players in the squad who also featured in India’s 2011 World Cup winning side. India captain Rohit Sharma, on the eve of the third ODI against Australia, mentioned that Ashwin’s experience would work in their favor.

“Ashwin has got the class; he’s got the experience of playing the sport and handling the pressure. It’s just that he hasn’t played ODIs (for) a year or so,” Rohit said praising the spinner. “But you can’t take away the class and the experience that the individual has over the years.”

Ashwin displayed his smartness against Australia

Since the inclusion of Ashwin in the three-match home ODI series against Australia, it was confirmed that India wanted to see if he still had the same skills and the ability to showcase them in white ball cricket. Most importantly, upon coming back to the ODI side after six years.

Ashwin didn’t start well in his first spell in Mohali - going for 30 runs without any success in five overs, and the rustiness was visible in his bowling. But he came back like a champion, understanding the track and ending the match with the stats of 1/47 in 10 overs - including the wicket of Marnus Labuschagne, who attempted the reverse sweep as the ball turned in and found him out of the crease.

Ashwin got the final approval for inclusion in India’s World Cup squad during the Indore ODI - where the track was favoring spin. With a beautiful carrom ball, he broke the stumps of Labuschagne who missed his flick shot. David Warner also fell in his trap and he was adjudged LBW, likewise Josh Inglis was struck low on the front foot, resulting in the umpire raising his finger instantly.

Ashwin ended the match with figures of 3/41 in 10 overs, but if one thinks that was because of the spin-friendly pitch, then it’s important to note that on the same 22-yards Jadeja was whacked all around the park at a rate of 7.9.

The experienced spinner displayed his smartness, his ability to play with the batters’ mind and of course the vast bouquet of variations.

Let’s see what benefits R Ashwin brings to the table with his inclusion:

ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023_ Ravichandran Ashwin included to India's World Cup squad _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Ashwin took three wickets in Indore against Aus (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)
Vast experience and mental edge over the opposition

Ashwin is the only specialist off-spinner in India’s World Cup squad and brings his experience of 155 scalps in 115 games, taken at an average of 33.2 and economy of 4.95. Out of these, 69 wickets in 44 innings came at an average of 30.4 and economy of 5.08 in India. After making his ODI debut a year before the 2011 World Cup, he became a part of the winning campaign with four wickets in two games.

Even during the 2015 World Cup in Australia, Ashwin took 13 wickets in eight games at an average of 25.38 and economy of 4.28. His time in the 50-over game slowly came to end, and he was excluded from the 2019 World Cup in England.

While Ashwin lacks the batting prowess of Patel, he isn’t just another tailender - having scored five Test centuries which speak volumes about his batting temperament. He can easily come at number eight and score a few runs whenever needed, and the greatest value of Ashwin as a batter is his ability to adapt according to the situation.

Having played across the globe and against various oppositions, he also has a mental edge over the batters. It was most apparent when Ashwin came into the attack during the Indore ODI, Warner who looked supreme at the start suddenly began to play some funky shots as a right-handed batter, changing his guard continuously.

The boon of having an extra batter in the eleven

With no Ashwin, India didn’t have much choice of going with six batters in the playing eleven - but with the inclusion of the off-spinner this can be achieved.

If Ashwin plays, he can easily give 10 overs on any given day and that will enable India to include Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan, depending on the situation. Even in the spin department, they can choose between Ashwin and Kuldeep Yadav. Ashwin can prove to be very dangerous against teams like Sri Lanka - who have three left-handers in their top batting order.

If there is any spinning track during the tournament, India can also opt for three spinning options. So, the hosts will always have flexibility in different conditions.

Fighting spirit and multiple variations

Ashwin, along with his experience, also has an unmatched number of variations in bowling. From the regular off breaks, to the carrom ball, and the sliding delivery, he has it all and uses them according to the circumstances of the game.

Along with this, Ashwin also has a strong presence and it has been the same for a long time. As a fighting character, even if he doesn’t get a good start in a game he will keep trying to make a comeback from any situation and more often than not ends up contributing immensely to his team’s success.

India will begin their World Cup 2023 campaign against Australia on October 8 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.


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