There has been a lot of talk about what this India vs Australia ODI series means. There have been attempts to give it context... to drum up some interest. It is a chance for India to find a Plan B or to find alternatives to Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah or perhaps a chance to find an answer to the perennial No 4 problem.

Well, it may be all that but it still amounts to nothing. Even if the fringe players, who are still trying to secure a place in the World Cup squad, have a great series against Australia, it still won’t count for much if they don’t continue that good run in the Indian Premier League that follows soon after.

The fringe players are likely to come into the squad only to replace the established players in case of injury or if Virat Kohli decides to go with his favourite ‘horses for courses’ policy. So if that really is the case, the selectors and team management would rather go with current form as the marker.

And that is where the India-Australia series loses all context. While the series may allow the team management to see how a certain player fits into the team set-up, poor form in the IPL (which will also translate into current form) will prove to be the death knell.

The only thing this series can realistically do is give the fringe player (who is already in the squad) an edge in case the player he is competing with has a very similar return in the IPL.

On the other hand, if the fringe player who is already part of the squad has a poor IPL, will the selectors still pick him?

All of this essentially leads to the IPL acting as a virtual selection trial for all of India’s World Cup hopefuls. If Ambati Rayudu has a poor IPL but Dinesh Karthik has a great one, will the selectors be able to justify their decision to keep him out? Similarly, Kohli and Shastri have backed KL Rahul to come good but will they still bat for him if he fails to get among the runs in the IPL?

At some level, there will also be pressure on the likes of Yuzuvendra Chahal, who has been in and out of the ODI squad for a while now, to show that he continues to improve as a bowler. Krunal Pandya’s utility as a batsman might put pressure on the leg-spinner.

In a similar vein, the team management will keep a close eye on the form of Mohammed Shami during the T20 tournament. He has had a tough time in the past but his recent form in ODIs has been great.

Committee of Administrators member Diana Edulji has already said that the BCCI won’t be asking the IPL teams to regulate the workload.

“There was no discussion on that [workload of the players during the IPL],” the former India captain said.

She added: “We have already decided during the Hyderabad meeting with the team members that we can’t regulate the workload, so it’s up to the franchises. CoA or BCCI can’t take a call because who is going to reimburse the players?”

Her comments open the floor to India players playing the entire length of the IPL season or at least until the BCCI suddenly decides that it does have the funds to reimburse the players and the teams if it so chooses to.

Perhaps, this is also why the team management has chosen to rest players during the T20Is and the ODIs. The IPL will be a truer test of form and mettle than anything else this close to the World Cup.

In the past, good performances in the IPL have always been rewarded, usually with a trip to the West Indies or some other country when all the seniors want some rest. But this time, the prize maybe a chance to be part of the World Cup squad. The stakes have never really been higher.

Ironically, this will add context to the IPL that will go well beyond money.