India dropped four regular members for the first two matches against Australia
India now looks ahead to their last and final practice for the ODI World Cup at home as they take on five-time champions Australia in a three-match series beginning September 22 after their perfectly timed Asia Cup title haul in Colombo on Sunday, where they defeated Sri Lanka by 10 wickets. The selection committee made up to four changes, when most people would have anticipated India to remain the same save for that one injury issue involving Axar Patel.
Ajit Agarkar, the chief selector for the BCCI, read out the roster for the three-match home series against Pat Cummins' team virtually the day after India's Asia Cup victory. India selected a 15-member team for the opening two games and a 17-member team for the championship match.
India lost four regular players for the first two games in Baroda on September 27, while the selectors only recruited two additional players to their 15-member World Cup team for the final match. The squad was without Kuldeep Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, and Rohit Sharma for the first two games.
Responding to a question from the press, Agarkar revealed: "Few of the players have been given a breather. Rohit has taken a break."
"Luckily we got a fair amount of cricket at the Asia Cup," Agarkar added. "If not, we would've looked at it some other way. More than physical, sometimes guys need a mental break, which isn't a bad thing leading into a tournament like the World Cup.
"For the third game, everyone will be available. We will play our World Cup squad. This [squad for the first two ODIs] gives us a chance to give guys sitting outside a chance. It's still a strong squad. Like I said, if we hadn't got a lot of cricket at the Asia Cup, who knows, we may have thought differently."
Rohit and Kohli had both been rested for the West Indies ODI series and had only returned to the set-up in the Asia Cup. In a bid to test India's bench strength, both had relinquished their original batting spot in the first ODI match against West Indies before being rested for the second and third game. They had later missed the T20I contest and the tour of Ireland as well.
In fact, Hardik led India in place of Rohit in the last two ODIs. Hardik has participated in every ODI match against the West Indies. While both were resting for the Ireland tour, Kuldeep also participated in the competition.
In the first two games against Australia, KL Rahul will serve as the captain and Ravindra Jadeja as his backup. Tilak Varma and Ruturaj Gaikwad have been chosen for the first two games, and they will both be heading the Indian team at the Asian Games later this month.
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