IND v AUS 2023: “The guys need a mental break,” Ajit Agarkar on resting Rohit, Kohli and others for first two ODIs

The series will be the final rehearsal before the 2023 ODI World Cup.

Ajit Agarkar, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli | GettyThe BCCI men's selection committee on Monday (September 18) announced Team India’s squad for the three-match ODI series against Australia, starting September 22.

The series will be the final rehearsal before the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023, slated to get underway on October 5 in India.

While the selectors named a 15-member squad for the first two games, they picked 17 players for the third and final ODI.

Star batters Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli were not included in the team for the first two ODIs and chief selector Ajit Agarkar explained the decision, saying that they needed a “mental break” ahead of the World Cup.

Besides Rohit and Kohli, all-rounder Hardik Pandya and wrist-spinner Kuldeep Yadav have been rested for the first and second ODI matches. In Rohit’s absence, KL Rahul will lead the side in the first two ODIs.

“Rohit and Virat have been around forever. Hardik is an important player for us. We want to manage them. 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,” Agarkar said in a press conference on Monday.

“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,” he added.

There were concerns over Shreyas Iyer’s match fitness as he didn’t feature in the Asia Cup Super 4 games and the final due to a back spasm. However, the selection panel picked the middle-order batter for all three ODIs against Australia.

Commenting on Iyer, Agarkar said: “He’s not picked up a stress fracture; otherwise he wouldn’t be in the squad. He’s fine – whether he’s batting or fielding. At the moment, he’s fit; that’s why we picked him in the squad. We are hopeful that he gets through all these three games.”

“He’s worked incredibly hard over the last many months to be at this stage, to be fit. Fortunately for him, it wasn’t a massive injury, but he did pick up a niggle. He’ll have to get through these games, and we are hopeful that he will. At the moment, he is fine,” he further stated.

Mohali will host the ODI series opener between India and Australia. The action then moves to Indore where the second ODI will take place on September 24. Rajkot will stage the series finale on September 27.

India will also play two warm-up games before the World Cup against England (September 30) and Netherlands (October 3). Rohit Sharma and his men will begin their World Cup campaign against Australia in Chennai on October 8.


By Salman Anjum - 19 Sep, 2023

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