Ahead of the series-opener of the five-match One-Day International series against Australia, India have suffered yet another blow as in-form spinner Axar Patel is now doubtful for the match after injuring his ankle while playing the customary football game ahead of the training session.
The left-arm spinner was immediately attended by team physio Patrick Farhat who strapped his ankle. Axar was still in discomfort as he was seen grimacing and did not participate in the training thereafter. A official confirmation on his availability is still awaited.
India have already lost the services of in-form opener Shikhar Dhawan for the first three games of the series. The southpaw, who has been in sizzling form since returning to the team in the Champions Trophy, has been given the permission to miss the games to remain with his unwell wife. And with such an important member of the team already out, losing Axar will be a big blow for the tough series against the reigning world champions.
Axar was in brilliant form in his comeback series in Sri Lanka where he claimed six wickets in four games at an economy rate of 3.85 as India thrashed the Islanders by 5-0. In case, he fails to recover in time for the first game, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal are likely to be included in the team.
Speaking in the pre-match conference, he said: “It’s up to the player to take up a versatile position what the team requires him to do. I am not saying it’s easy. See Ajinkya Rahane plays in middle order in ODIs and Tests and then he has opened a lot in the ODIs are well. He also felt that he found it difficult to switch. Now we are backing Rahane at the top of the order so he knows his plans are clear. Once you get that balance with given that player more chances then he gets more confident of his role in the team.”
India squad ( first 3 ODIs):
Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.