Ravichandran Ashwin continues to wait for his chance in the ongoing England-India series after he was snubbed yet again at the fourth Test at The Kia Oval. His non-inclusion has resulted in heavy backlash, with ex-players and journalists alike questioning the ‘stubbornness’ of the India management.
When Virat Kohli walked out to reveal the changes after losing yet another toss, it was expected that Ashwin, who has picked up 413 Test wickets, would finally make the XI. However, it was not to be, with Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur replacing Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami in the XI. In the last three years, Ashwin has taken 86 Test wickets at 20.62 and in his most recent first-class appearance, he took 6-39 for Surrey in a County Championship game at The Oval.
The repeated omission of Ashwin, the number two ranked Test bowler in the world, was justified by Kohli at the toss, as he stated: “England have four left-handers, which provides a good match-up for Ravindra Jadeja.”
The argument – Ashwin is more likely to threaten left-handers than Jadeja – did not sit well with the Sky Cricket commentators Nasser Hussain and Shane Warne, with the latter, in particular, pointing out Kohli’s stubborn resistance to leave out Ashwin. “Stubborn is a terrific word that Nasser used. I think it’s just stubborn. I think it’s exactly that. You don’t pick a side just for the first innings. It will turn [at The Oval], and he has five Test hundreds. So you are playing a batsman as well.”
Ajay Jadeja, commentating for Sony, was also surprised that the off-spinner did not feature in the XI. He said: “India has gone in with five bowlers, and they don’t have a spot for Ashwin among them, which is very surprising.”
His words were echoed by Michael Vaughan, who said the ‘non-selection as ‘madness’.
— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) September 2, 2021
I really hope it works but I am flabbergasted that India have gone in without Ashwin again.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 2, 2021
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) September 2, 2021
So Kohli has declared the World #2 bowler is useless against left handers.
When Ashwin becomes the captain (which will be soon) he should just drop Kohli if there is a solitary cloud in the sky. “He can’t play swing, hence dropped”
That would be fitting.
— Gabbbar (@GabbbarSingh) September 2, 2021
We know nobody answers any questions these days, but if Indian think tank—such as it is—is determined to not play Ashwin ever, why take him on such a long tour? Team selections overseas looking as whimsical as the last one in S. Africa. That lost us the series.#INDvsEND
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) September 2, 2021
Impossible to see Ashwin’s continued absence as anything other than a huge act of self-sabotage.
India may well win, they are really good after all, but it’s just way too clever by half to leave out your 400-wicket, 5 century guy.
— Rory Dollard (@thervd) September 2, 2021
I can’t believe they left out Ashwin again, on England’s most spin-friendly ground. This team is unbelievable. You pick your five best bowlers, @ashwinravi99 has to be the first or second name. Omitting him & @MdShami11 at the Oval is like a death-wish — as if you want to lose!
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 2, 2021
Kohli is trying hard to prove he can score a Test hundred without a TN Player in XI. He hasn’t done so far in his career.
— Krishna Kumar (@KrishnaKRM) September 2, 2021
To not play Ashwin even now is just ridiculous. It’s almost like they are scared if he does well they’ll face a lot of flak for not having played him earlier. Nonsensical really.
— Abijit Ganguly (@AbijitG) September 2, 2021