R Ashwin was named in India’s squad for the upcoming three-match One Day International series against Australia on Monday.

Chief Selector Ajit Agarkar and captain Rohit Sharma named a 15-member squad for the first two ODIs which will be led by KL Rahul.

Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav have been rested for the first two ODIs.

The series is being looked at as the final preparation ahead of the mega-event and the aim is to test the bench strength in those games.

The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, Washington Sundar all found a place in the squad.

However, for the third ODI, India will go in with the same squad as announced for the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup next month with Ashwin and Sundar being the additions.

Ashwin last played an ODI against South Africa in January 2022. However, Axar Patel’s injury at the Asia Cup 2023 opened the doors for the off-spinner who has picked up 151 wickets in the format.

On Monday, Sharma said about his inclusion, “With the kind of experience he has, for guys like him it’s just in the head. We made the decision after speaking to him, knowing where his mind is at, where his body is at.”

He added: “He has played test cricket recently, so he has played cricket just not this format. With the games against Australia, we will get to see where he is at.”

Though Patel has been named in the squad for the third ODI, his participation will remain subject to his fitness.

India squad for first two ODIs: KL Rahul (C), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Mohammad Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar

For third ODI: Rohit Sharma (C), Hardik Pandya, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Washington Sundar, R Ashwin

On resting players for the first ODI, Agarkar said, “The guys need a mental break more than a physical one. It gives us a chance to play some of the guys that are on the outside. If we did not have a lot of cricket at the Asia Cup, we would have thought about playing the players.”

The pace battery consisting of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj, Mohammad Shami and Shardul Thakur delivered impressive performances at the Asia Cup and remain unchanged for the home series against Australia.

Meanwhile Australia saw the return of several senior players in the squad. Steve Smith and regular captain Pat Cummins were recovering from wrist injury, Mitchell Starc was experiencing groin and shoulder pain after returning from England.

Additionally, Glenn Maxwell rejoins the team after missing the series in South Africa due to an ankle injury and the birth of his child.

However, Travis Head, who fractured his hand against South Africa in the fourth ODI, will miss the series. His participation in the first half of the World Cup is also in doubt.

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Sean Abbott, Alex Carey, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Josh Inglis, Spencer Johnson, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tanveer Sangha, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa