All-rounder Ravichandran Ashwin has formed the backbone of the Indian Test side for a long time now. He has been in sparkling form since the tour of Australia as well and has constantly trouble opposition batsmen. Ashwin had also racked up a century against England in India when the two countries last met in a Test series. He was also India’s primary wicket-taker in the World Test Championship Final against New Zealand.
Eyebrows were raised when Ashwin was dropped from the Indian lineup for the opening Test against England at Nottingham. Virat Kohli wanted to make the most of the wet English conditions and therefore, decided to use an extra pacer in Shardul Thakur who can also bat well in the lower middle-order.
Unfortunately for Ashwin, things remained the same even in the second Test which began on August 12. Although Ishant Sharma made a return to the Indian side to replace Mohammed Siraj, Ashwin was once again on the bench. Former India batting great VVS Laxman also seemed perplexed by the decisions and couldn’t figure out how Ashwin could go from India’s primary spinner in the WTC Final to not finding a place in the XI.
“Ishant Sharma walks into the team if he is hundred percent fit. And that should have been in the place of Mohammed Siraj. For me, I am not able to comprehend what changes from the World Test Championship final when Ashwin was your go-to first-choice spinner, and in a matter of a month’s time, he is not even finding a place in the playing XI,” said Laxman in a chat on ESPNCricinfo.
VVS Laxman further added that India’s ability to play four pacers is a luxury for the side and it is irrespective of what the conditions seem to offer. Both Ishant Sharma and Mohammmed Siraj can bowl long spells with the ball and keep the pressure up on the batsman.
“I still feel that four fast bowlers is a luxury, irrespective of the conditions you are playing on. India has got three quality fast bowlers, whether it was Siraj or Ishant Sharma, it doesn’t matter, because both of them are quality fast bowlers who have got the ability to bowl long spells.
“Ashwin gets that variety to the bowling attack, and he has got abundance of experience. So, I am not able to comprehend the reasoning behind this decision. I think it is very clear listening to Virat Kohli that he wants to continue with this template. It is very clear that Ashwin will have to wait for his time. If Ashwin is not playing in these conditions at Lord’s, I don’t see him getting into this playing XI, and I don’t see Virat Kohli changing the template very soon,” concluded Laxman.