BCCI chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar has hinted that there's a decent chance of all-rounder Axar Patel getting fit in time for the ODI World Cup to be played in India from October 5 to November 19.
Axar has been a key member of the Indian team in the limited-overs formats over the last few seasons. His improved batting over the last year has been a massive plus for India down the order.
The 29-year-old was ruled out of the Asia Cup final against Sri Lanka on Sunday, September 17, due to a left quadriceps strain picked up during the Super 4 game against Bangladesh. Axar is not part of the Indian team for the first two ODIs against Australia.
Asked about the left-arm spinner’s fitness status, Agarkar said at a press conference on Monday:
“From what has been made known to us with Axar’s injury is that he should be okay. That’s a call we’ll make once we know that.”
In his absence, both Washington Sundar and Ravichandran Ashwin have been named in the squad for the first two ODIs. Speaking about the inclusion of the duo, Agarkar said:
“Axar, unfortunately, picked up an injury in that game, and we are hopeful that he will be fit.
"Washington Sundar was already part of the squad for the (Asia Cup) final, and Ashwin brings experience, so it gives us options in case there is a need at some stage to look at a couple of guys.”
Sundar was included in the XI for the Asia Cup final but was not needed to bowl or bat, as India crushed Sri Lanka by ten wickets.
“Don’t think there’s any need to speculate right now” - Agarkar on Axar’s likely replacement
Asked who between Ashwin and Sundar would be the preferred option in case Axar does not recover in time for the World Cup, Agarkar responded that it’s too early to take a call:
“There are a couple of guys - Ashwin and Sundar. But, at least, it leaves us with options - these guys get a couple of games now. It gives the team management a few options if they need to go that way.
"If the need arises, we’ll have a look at it at that stage. I don’t think there’s any need to speculate right now. We are hoping that he (Axar) is fit.”
Axar has represented India in 54 ODIs, claiming 59 wickets at an average of 32.23 and an economy rate of 4.54. He has also scored 481 runs, with two half-centuries.