Mahesh Pithiya had just finished his training session and, at that moment, received a call from his friend Pritesh Joshi, who is currently working as a side-armer with the Australian team in preparation for the World Cup. In a brief conversation, Pithiya was instructed to pack his bags and be in Chennai by October 4. This call came shortly after India officially named Ravichandran Ashwin as a replacement for Axar Patel, prompting the Australian team management to swiftly reach out to Pithiya.
Being an off-spinner from Baroda with a bowling action resembling Ashwin’s, he was asked to join the team. Mahesh Pithiya had closely collaborated with the Australian team during the previous Border-Gavaskar Trophy. With a bowling action similar to Ravichandran Ashwin’s, he was brought in to understand how to face the legendary Indian spinner. Despite this, Australia couldn’t outperform Ashwin in the series.
Australia start their World Cup journey against India on October 8th
As the ODI World Cup approaches, set to commence on October 5, the Australian team management invited Pithiya to rejoin the squad before their crucial match against the hosts on October 8. However, after discussing it with Baroda’s bowling coach, S Aravind, the 21-year-old declined the offer, expressing a preference to focus on his domestic cricket commitments.
“It was certainly an exciting offer, but then, I am also part of the Baroda set-up for the domestic season that begins next month. So, I thought about it, spoke to our coach and informed them that it won’t be possible for me to join the camp this time around,” Pithiya told Sportstar.
Pithiya made it clear that he wasn’t originally in the plans. However, as soon as the BCCI included Ravichandran Ashwin in the ODI World Cup squad, they extended the invitation for him to join the team in Chennai by October 4th.
“As soon as the BCCI announced Ashwin as the replacement for Axar, I got the call. It is always exciting to work with international teams, but my priority is domestic cricket. I have come so far because of playing for Baroda and ahead of a long season, I thought I should focus on my game and not join the Australian team,” the youngster added.
In contrast, Australia’s initial warm-up match against the Netherlands got canceled because of rain. However, players like Steven Smith and Cameron Green displayed potential in their batting, and Mitchell Starc achieved a remarkable hat-trick before the rain interrupted the game.