Sharma, Kohli rested as India tests bench for Australia ODIs
Indian selectors on Monday rested captain Rohit Sharma and batting superstar Virat Kohli from the 15-member squad for the first two ODIs against visitors Australia.
Veteran R Ashwin and Washington Sundar, both off-spinners and handy lower-order batters, have been included in the squad in a sign that they may be back in contention for the home World Cup in October.
India have also rested left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav and all-rounder Axar Patel, who is recovering after an injury scare in the recently concluded Asia Cup tournament in Sri Lanka.
Both Patel and Yadav, who are part of the Indian squad for the World Cup, will return along with all other regulars for the third and final ODI against Australia.
Sharma told journalists that it was important to test their bench strength in the bilateral series starting this Friday before the all-important World Cup when they will have to travel extensively across India.
KL Rahul, who recently returned from a long injury layoff, will lead the Indian side against Australia in Sharma's absence.
India squad (first two ODIs): KL Rahul (captain), Shubman Gill, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, R Ashwin, Washington Sundar
Squad (third ODI): Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Virat Kohli, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel (subject to fitness), R Ashwin, Washington Sundar