Team India management and the selectors took an unconventional route in picking the side for three ODIs against Australia as they named two squads for the upcoming series starting Friday, September 22 in Mohali. Keeping in mind that there is a World Cup to be played with nine matches in a span of six weeks and an Asia Cup just got over, the management rested four key players including skipper Rohit Sharma, vice-captain Hardik Pandya, senior batter Virat Kohli and the team's No. 1 spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
The changes are for the first two ODIs with the World Cup squad being named for the third ODI. Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar, who addressed the press conference while announcing the squad explained the rationale behind the decision, especially with the World Cup being so close.
Responding to the question, Agarkar said that a mental break was important for key players who have been playing regularly and it gives them a chance to look at some of the other players. "Rohit and Virat have been around forever. Hardik is an important player for us. We want him 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.
"At some stage, the guys need a mental break, not such a bad thing leading up to the tournament. In the third game, everyone will be available to play. We will play our World Cup squad," Agarkar said.
In the absence of Rohit and Hardik, wicketkeeper batter KL Rahul has been named the captain while Ravindra Jadeja will be his deputy. In place of Rohit, Ruturaj Gaikwad has been picked as the extra opener, while Washington Sundar and R Ashwin have also been included in place of Kuldeep and injured Axar Patel.
India squad for first two ODIs against Australia:?KL Rahul (w/c), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan (wk), Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja (vc), Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar