Veteran off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin intensively trained at the nets in Chennai in preparation for the 2023 World Cup match between India and Australia. Ashwin is a potential inclusion as the third spinner alongside Ravindra Jadeja and Kuldeep Yadav, considering the expected challenging conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
His effectiveness against experienced Australian batsmen David Warner and Steve Smith, especially his ability to trouble left-handers with his off-breaks, is noteworthy. Ashwin’s prior success against Warner, with 11 dismissals in Tests, and Warner even switching to batting right-handed in a recent ODI to counter Ashwin, further solidifies his position.
Given his history and skills, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Ashwin selected over Shardul Thakur in the opening match at Chepauk. He took an extended net session, practicing against players like Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, and Thakur.
Prior to his bowling practice, the Chennai-based player devoted a significant amount of time at the nets to improve his batting abilities. Ashwin initiated his batting session by facing deliveries from side-arm specialists within the squad. Afterward, he honed his skills against the usual bowlers from the Indian team and also had an opportunity to face local net bowlers.
Ashwin, known for his impeccable timing while batting, showcased his proficiency in playing lofted shots, a skill that could prove valuable if he’s called upon to bat at the 8th position.
India and Australia will face each other in their opening match of the 2023 World Cup on Sunday in Chennai
This marked India’s second practice session leading up to their game against Australia, with everyone participating except Shubman Gill. Virat Kohli, the star batsman, appeared to be in excellent form during his practice session of nearly 45 minutes in the nets, executing his classic drives against both fast bowlers and specialized throwdown bowlers.
Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, and Ishan Kishan also had a productive batting session. While Surya, Kishan, and Jadeja exhibited their prowess in playing aggressive shots, Iyer faced occasional challenges with short-pitched deliveries but adeptly connected when executing pull shots over square leg and deep fine-leg.
Subsequently, bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep, and Thakur also dedicated some time to enhance their batting skills. KL Rahul, who recently returned to high-level cricket during the Asia Cup after a lengthy injury break, engaged in a session with head coach Rahul Dravid, focusing on throwdowns.
Among the bowlers, pacers Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj delivered with intensity, occasionally unsettling Iyer and Thakur with deliveries that moved away from the batsmen. However, no specific preparation was undertaken against the left-arm pace of Mitchell Starc. It’s worth noting that Indian batsmen had conducted comprehensive training during the Asia Cup to counter Pakistan’s left-arm pacer, Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Starc displayed his lethal bowling skills in the warm-up match against the Netherlands, claiming a hat-trick and generating significant swing. Nevertheless, the playing conditions in Chennai are expected to be notably different from the rainy Thiruvananthapuram.
Starc has historically posed a challenge to Indian batsmen, with 12 wickets in eight ODIs in India, including a five-wicket haul, averaging 39.41, and an economy rate of 6.50.