Additionally, Washington Sundar, who had been chosen as a replacement for Axar Patel during the Asia Cup, is also in the side. These two selections underscore the management's continued interest in having an off-spinner as part of the World Cup squad.
The provisional squad for India consists of three spinners, all of whom are left-armers. While Kuldeep Yadav adds variety with his wrist-spinning abilities, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel possess similar skill sets.
Here we take a look at three reasons why Ravichandran Ashwin should start over Washington Sundar in 1st ODI:
#3 Experience in home conditions
Axar Patel's injury just before the Asia Cup final appears to have shifted the perspective of both the team management and selectors regarding the spin attack's composition.
As such, the Indian team needed an off-spinner and with Ashwin in the mix, it will be prudent to play him since he has a lot of experience under his belt.
He has been very successful in Indian conditions with the red ball and although the pitches in the upcoming ODI series could be batting tracks, the veteran offie, with his variations and control, can be a good asset as opposed to Washington Sundar.
#2 Genuine wicket-taker
For all the traits that Washington Sundar possesses, R Ashwin is a far more attacking off-spinner who can genuinely take wickets across any phase of the innings. Also, Australia will have a minimum of two left-handers in the top five and Ashwin’s record against lefties is unparalleled.
Kuldeep Yadav currently ranks among the top ODI spinners and is expected to be a regular starter when he's fit and firing. India need another spinner who relies on flight and changes of pace to take the ball away from the left-handers. This is where R Ashwin should get the nod over Washington Sundar.
"I think Ashwin will be slightly ahead now that a bowler of his stature has been called into the mix. I have always felt that he should have been in the mix from the time the team got into the ODI World Cup mode," former chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said (via India Today).
#1 Improved batting and power-hitting
In Ravindra Jadeja and Ishan Kishan, India have two left-handers who will probably start the first two matches of the series. As such, Ashwin, with a much more assured defense and good batting temperament, will give the side a lot of flexibility.
There was no doubt over his batting credentials, and in the recent season of the IPL, Rajasthan Royals kept pushing him up the order where he gave a great account of his power-hitting as well.
Hence, with his experience and tactical nous, he is placed slightly ahead of Washington Sundar and should be picked as the first-choice off-spinner in the first match of the series against Australia.