Ravichandran Ashwin’s 20-month ODI exile ended on Monday after the off-spinner was recalled for a place in India’s squad for the first two ODIs against Australia starting Friday. Ajit Agarkar, the BCCI chairman of selectors, while unveiling the squad, informed that Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have been rested, paving the way for KL Rahul’s return as captain. The star duo will, however, be back for the final game, and the squad for this match remains unchanged from India’s 15-member World Cup line-up.

Ashwin replaces the injured Axar Patel, while his filler in the Asia Cup final, Washington Sundar, has retained his placed in the squad. Ashwin earns his first ODI call-up since December of 2021. As per a report carried by Mid-Day, Ashwin, who has also secured a place in the squad for the 3rd ODI, was reached out to by the team management when Axar strained his left quadriceps, but the spinner declined the offer as he was in no shape to get ready on such short notice, prompting the BCCI to turn to Sundar, who was part of India’s Asian Games camp in Bengaluru. However, Ashwin’s recall in the Indian ODI set-up could to be a stop-gap arrangement as Axar’s impending recovery is likely to put him right back in the mix of things. Having said that, don’t rule out the possibility of a last-minute change, for India have till September 27, to make tweaks if needed.

Ashwin last played an ODI in January of 2022 against South Africa in Paarl, before being shown the door. He returned to India’s T20I set-up for a good four months, playing the T20 World Cup. A permanent fixture of India’s Test unit, Ashwin continued to play red-ball games against Bangladesh last December and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy against Australia in March earlier this year. He was controversially dropped from India’s World Test Championship final in June before returning to spin the West Indies out with figures of 5/60 and 7/71 in Dominica.

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