What's the story?
Putting to rest all the speculations of Ravichandran Ashwin's limited-overs career drawing to a close, India bowling coach Bharat Arun clarified today that the off-spinner remains an integral part of the team's plans.
Speaking on the sidelines of India's practice session in Pallekele, Arun said, "He is an extremely talented bowler and even if you look at his last ODI which he played in West Indies he got 3 for 28. Ashwin is very, very skillful."
"I don’t want to look at what has happened so far. But definitely yes Ashwin is also part of the ODI team we are looking at. We would also like to give a lot of opportunities to other bowlers, and then we have a long-term plan in place. After that, we’ll take a call," he added.
In case you didn't know...
Ashwin, as well as Ravindra Jadeja, were 'rested' from the limited-overs leg of India's tour to Sri Lanka in accordance with the rotation policy put in place by the chairman of selectors MSK Prasad to identify a pool of 30 players to pick from for the 2019 World Cup.
The 30-year-old off-spinner has played only 15 out of the 37 ODIs that India have played since the 2015 World Cup and with the emergence of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal as wrist-spinning options, Ashwin's place in the side had come under the scanner.
While Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami have been rested for the ODI series, Shardul Thakur has been given an opportunity. He sat on the bench in Dambulla as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who didn't get a game in the Test series, and Jasprit Bumrah featured in the first ODI, with Hardik Pandya included as an all-rounder.
"We are blessed to have a bowling attack that’s so versatile," Arun said.
"It is important that we monitor the workload of the bowlers. So it’s not only in practice but also what they do in the matches you take into account. You keep their workloads to an ideal so that they are in an ideal performance state all the time. That’s the key to doing it," he explained further.
With important away tours to South Africa, England, and Australia coming up, managing the fast bowlers' pool is a real challenge facing the Indian team management in that the pacers need to be kept fit and fresh.
Arun recognizes this challenge. "Injury is an inherent part of fast bowling and yes there were quite a few bowlers who were injured. But we have a great support system. I guess 50 percent of fast bowling depends on your fitness and the other 50 percent is skill. So, to bowl fast over a period of time, you have to be extremely fit. That’s one thing which we are emphasizing on," Arun said.
India play the second of the five-match series against Sri Lanka in Pallekele on August 24 and assuming there's isn't a major injury scare, India are expected to play the same team.
With Arun putting the weight of his words behind Ashwin, the off-spinner would feel a lot more confident as he gets a taste of the English conditions while playing for Worcestershire, for whom he signed up after the Sri Lanka Tests.
KL Rahul has already emphasized upon the effect that the management's backing has on the morale of an individual, and with Ashwin not in the best of forms with the white ball of late, this assurance would certainly do him a whole world of good.