'Ashwin will definitely be there...': Gavaskar, Irfan Pathan pick India's XI for World Cup opener vs Australia

Sep 29, 2023 12:49 PM IST

India will eventually begin their campaign against Australia on October 8 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Exactly 10 days later, Team India will begin their 2023 ODI World Cup campaign. With the tournament being held at home, the Rohit Sharma-led side is touted to lift the coveted trophy for the third time in history, adding to their 1983 and 2011 glory. India have ticked all the right boxes as well heading into the 50-over event, having ended their five-year trophy drought to lift the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka less than a fortnight ago before beating Australia 2-1 at home. However, with a variety of in-form options in the 15-member squad, all peaking at the right time, India have been troubled by selection headache. But Sunil Gavaskar and Irfan Pathan have given their verdict on the playing XI for India's opener in Chennai.

Sunil Gavaskar and Irfan Pathan give their verdict on the playing XI for India's opener in Chennai.
Sunil Gavaskar and Irfan Pathan give their verdict on the playing XI for India's opener in Chennai.

Team India will play two warm-up matches prior to the start of their World Cup campaign. They will face England on September 30 followed by a match against Netherlands on October 3. The Men in Blue will eventually begin their campaign against Australia on October 8 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

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ALSO READ: Ravichandran Ashwin drafted in India's World Cup squad as last-minute replacement for injured Axar Patel

Ahead of the match, India have been troubled by a few selection headaches which primarily pertain to the middle-order with four batters Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan competing for two slots - No. 4 and 5. The other one is on the bowling line-up, of whether India should pick three fast bowlers or as many spinners.

Speaking to Star Sports on their YouTube channel, Gavaskar backed Iyer, who scored a stellar 105 against Australia in Indore and Rahul, who smashed a ton against Pakistan in Asia Cup and followed it up two fifties against Australia, for the spot. Suryakumar, who smashed back-to-back half-centuries against the Aussies, including a career-best 72* off 37, and Ishan, who scored a valiant 82 against Pakistan earlier this month in Sri Lanka following a top-order collapse, hence missed out.

Gavaskar picks India's XI for first match in World Cup 2023 vs Australia

Gavaskar's India XI for World Cup opener against Australia: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah.

The batting legend further added that Ashwin, who was added to the India squad on Thursday after Axar Patel failed to recover from an injury, could be added to the XI if India pick three spinners. He said: "You can pick three fast bowlers in Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah or else can pick two fast bowlers because you also have Hardik Pandya then Ashwin will definitely be there."

Irfan Pathan's pick for India XI in World Cup 2023

Irfan, who was part of the same panel, agreed with the top-7 in Gavaskar's team, but explained that India need to bring in wicket-taking bowling options in the line-up in a bid to counter dew factor which will affect the matches in the country early on in the tournament.

"I completely agree with the top 7. But it boils down to the bowling department. I want India to play five proper bowlers. Since you have Hardik as the sixth bowler you should go with bowlers having wicket-taking abilities. It is because the pitches India will get now will have dew factor involved so then you need to have a solid bowling line-up. So you either pick three pacers or if you feel like you want to get someone to accompany Kuldeep Yadav and Jadeja...on a turning track, and if Ashwin is good enough the pick him," he said.

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