Australia might be spared facing ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the upcoming one-day international series if India’s selectors decide not to pull him from his county cricket stint in the UK.
The Press Trust of India reports Ashwin, who is currently two matches through a four-match contract with Division Two outfit Worcestershire, would likely miss the entire ODI series against Australia if he was to fulfill his duties at New Road.
Should Ashwin remain in England, his fourth and final match for Worcestershire would be against Durham from September 25-28. India’s fourth ODI against Steve Smith’s men is on September 28 while the fifth match is set to be played three days later in Nagpur.
India’s selectors are expected to name a squad for the first three matches, to be held in Chennai, Kolkata and Indore.
In his two county matches to date, Ashwin has collected eight wickets and contributed with the bat coming in at No.6.
His 5-68 in the second innings against Gloucestershire in his first match last month delivered Worcestershire a 189-run win as they continue to press for promotion.
The 30-year-old skipped India’s limited-overs matches against Sri Lanka after taking 17 wickets in the 3-0 series whitewash in July-August.
Ashwin's absence will undoubtedly boost the Australians’ confidence, who have struggled to counter the off-spinner in the past.
In the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy series earlier this year, Ashwin claimed 21 wickets including a match-winning 6-41 in the second innings in Bangalore.
However, a look at Ashwin’s ODI numbers against Australia reveals a different story to his Test dominance.
In 15 50-over matches against Australia, Ashwin has captured 16 wickets at 49 runs apiece.
But those figures are heavily influenced by Ashwin’s poor record in Australia, where he has taken only four wickets in seven games at an average of 91. At home, he has 12 Australian scalps at 35.
Australia will play a tour match in Chennai on Tuesday before the opening match at the same venue next Sunday.
Australia's Qantas Tour of India
Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.
Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.
India squad: TBC
First ODI - MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai, September 17
Second ODI - Eden Gardens, Kolkata, September 21
Third ODI - Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore, September 24
Fourth ODI - M.Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, September 28
Fifth ODI - Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium, Nagpur, October 1
First T20 - JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi, October 7
Second T20 - Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati, October 10
Third T20 - Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, October 13