After 2 successive losses to the hosts in Perth and Brisbane, India made 2 changes for the 3rd ODI in Melbourne yesterday. However, the string of defeats did not end. Australia won by 3 wickets to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the 5-match series.
India had handed international debuts to all-rounder Rishi Dhawan and batsman Gurkeerat Singh Mann in place of Ashwin and Manish Pandey.
Ashwin, a regular in the Indian team and most of the times Dhoni's go-to man, was surprisingly axed.
Speaking after the defeat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Dhoni gave reasons for Ashwin's non-inclusion in the Playing XI.
"Well if you see how they had played Ashwin so far in the tournament, I thought he bowled well in the last game but it was the only slot available for trade. Because we couldn't have dropped Jadeja and played with Gurkeerat and Rishi Dhawan because that makes the batting slightly difficult," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference on Sunday.
In the 1st ODI, Ashwin went at 7.55 per over (2/68) as Australia chased down 310. In the 2nd ODI, Ashwin struggled again, being wicketless in his 10 overs (0/60).
"As I said in the past press conference also, the only slot we can look at it most likely Ashwin and maybe drop him and pick two players because we needed that extra bowler also and for that we had to leave Manish Pandey out.
"So that we could bring in Gurkeerat and maybe bowl 4-5 overs of offspin if it is needed. So that was the reasoning behind it and overall we felt that if the wicket remains good it may help the seamers slightly more and you wanted to see what Rishi has to offer and I felt that he bowled decently in this game," he added.
The 4th ODI between India and Australia is in Canberra on Wednesday (January 20). Ashwin is likely to be back in the team.