Axar out of first two one-dayers against Aus; Ashwin still in the mix, says Rohit Sharma

India captain Rohit Sharma revealed on Sunday that Axar Patel, who picked up a left quadriceps strain during the match against Bangladesh is unlikely to be available for the first two ODIs against Australia starting on Friday. It is understood that Axar will head to the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for his rehabilitation as the Indian team for the Australia series could see a few changes.

On Saturday, while ruling him out of the Asia Cup final, the BCCI stated that Axar has a strain. However, the scan results seem to have revealed a tear. “Axar had a small tear. It looks like maybe a week or ten days (to heal), I don’t know. We have to see how that injury progresses. Some guys recover quickly, and I hope that’s the case with him. I am not sure whether he will be able to play the first two games against Australia at home. But we will wait and see,” Rohit said in the post-match press conference.

In a significant statement, Sharma noted that R Ashwin was still in the mix. It is understood that the team management is still open to having an off-spinner in the squad for the Australia one-dayers and the World Cup, but they are yet to make up their mind as to whether it will be Washington Sundar or R Ashwin. India feel the control Ashwin offers would be needed at some point in the World Cup, when the conditions begin to get slower.

“As a spinner-all-rounder, Ashwin is in the line, I have been talking to him on the phone. The injury happened to Axar at the last minute and Washington was available, so he had to come and perform the role for us. He was cricket-fit because he was part of the Asian Games camp (in Bengaluru). I have been very clear with players about their roles. Everyone is in the loop,” Rohit said.

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In place of Axar, India had flown in Washington Sundar, who walked into the XI on Sunday. Washington is part of the Asian Games bound India squad, and that he found a place in the XI straight after arriving here, showed how much India value his all-round skills. For the series against Australia, with Axar not around, it would be interesting to see who the selectors turn to.

While Axar’s injury is a cause of concern, Rohit revealed that Shreyas Iyer who suffered back spasms during the Colombo-leg of matches, is close to attaining full fitness. Over the last three days, Shreyas has been training at the nets, but hasn’t been able to be match-ready. “Shreyas was not available for this game because certain parameters were kept for him to tick off. I think today he completed most of it. I should say he is alright 99 percent as of now. But he looks good, he batted and fielded for long hours, and he was on the ground long before we came to the ground. I don’t think it is a worry for us,” said Rohit.

For the three ODIs against Australia, there is a strong chance that India rest some of their key players including Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya.

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