"India's Cricket Conundrum: Choosing Between Washington, Ashwin, or Axar"cricket,India,Washington,Ashwin,Axar
"India's Cricket Conundrum: Choosing Between Washington, Ashwin, or Axar"

“India’s Cricket Conundrum: Choosing Between Washington, Ashwin, or Axar”

Feature: Washington, Ashwin or Axar?

India‘s recent 2-1 series victory against Australia has left selectors and team management with a decision to make heading into the upcoming World Cup. With fourteen of India‘s original World Cup squad of fifteen already locked in, the final spot is still up for grabs. Axar Patel’s quadriceps strain has opened the door for a possible swap, paving the way for either Ravichandran Ashwin or Washington Sundar to claim the spot.

Axar Patel’s Attributes

Axar Patel brings a left-handed batting option to an otherwise right-handed lineup and has the ability to attack and defend. He is also an excellent player of spin, which makes him a versatile option who can float up the batting order if required. However, his bowling style is similar to that of Ravindra Jadeja, limiting India‘s variety in their bowling attack. Furthermore, Axar has struggled with his bowling since the Test series against Australia earlier this year. His ability to turn the ball sharply into the right-hander has been inconsistent, even on turning pitches. While there is still a chance for Axar to sort out his issues before the World Cup, the performances of Ashwin and Washington have showcased the usefulness of off-spinners in the squad.

The Competitors: Ashwin and Washington

Ravichandran Ashwin made an impressive return in the first two ODIs against Australia, particularly in the last four overs of the second match in Mohali, where he picked up 1 for 11. He also took three wickets in Indore, including a crucial dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne. Ashwin‘s guile and variety were on full display in his bowling. On the other hand, Washington Sundar delivered an economical spell in Rajkot, conceding just 48 runs in his ten overs. His bowling lacks Ashwin‘s guile and variety but proved effective by hammering away at a challenging length while minimizing width. Washington also got the opportunity to open the batting in Rajkot, although he only managed 18 off 30 balls. It is unlikely that he will have to open in the World Cup if selected.

A sixth bowler is a genuine asset

Washington‘s performance in Rajkot underscored the importance of having a sixth bowling option. In the previous two ODIs, India faced difficulties without this option, with Shardul Thakur struggling and conceding runs while fulfilling his full ten-over quota in Mohali. The availability of a sixth bowler provides flexibility and relieves pressure on other bowlers. However, fitting six bowlers into the playing XI can be challenging. The absence of Hardik Pandya, who offers genuine all-round skills, limits India‘s ability to play six bowlers without compromising batting depth.

Depth is non-negotiable

India‘s chase in Rajkot highlighted the significance of having depth in batting. The team’s chase faltered after the fall of the sixth wicket in the 39th over. Lack of a strong No. 8 batsman meant that the middle order had to bat with caution, which increased the required run rate. This is why there is no room for Yuzvendra Chahal in the World Cup squad, and the battle for the third spinner’s spot is between Axar, Ashwin, and Washington. Shardul Thakur’s frequent appearances in ODIs can also be attributed to the need for batting depth.

How can India fit in Suryakumar?

Not every match in the World Cup will see teams scoring over 350 runs as they did in Indore and Mohali. However, flat pitches are expected in ICC events, resulting in high-scoring games. In such scenarios, X-factor players who can score at T20 rates become invaluable. Suryakumar Yadav showcased his ability to score quickly in the 50-overs format with an unbeaten 72 off 37 balls in Indore. His performance raises the question of whether he should be included in the XI even when all the first-choice players are available. The match in Rajkot also intensified this debate, as the top-order batsmen played similar innings, while Suryakumar managed just 8 runs due to a high required run rate.

India‘s Coverage Across Formats

In terms of overall squad composition, India has almost every base covered for the World Cup in Indian conditions. While they may desire a fast bowler who can bat or a left-handed top-order batsman, these are minor concerns compared to other teams. India has been fortunate with injuries, with key players like Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, and Jasprit Bumrah returning to full fitness. Other teams, such as Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Australia, have suffered significant blows due to injuries to key players. India will hope their luck continues in the coming weeks leading up to the World Cup.

In conclusion, the battle for the final World Cup spot between Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Washington Sundar is a crucial decision for India. Each player brings unique strengths and attributes, but the selectors must carefully consider the team’s balance and requirements. The inclusion of a sixth bowling option and depth in batting are also vital elements that India must consider. With almost every base covered, India‘s main focus will be on sustaining their good fortune with regards to injuries in the lead-up to the World Cup.


<< photo by Sandeep Singh >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.

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G'day, mates! I'm Greg Buckley, and I've been reporting here in the land Down Under for the last 15 years. I'm all about sports and culture, so if there's a footy match or an art exhibit, you'll likely see me there. Let's give it a burl together, Australia!

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