All eyes were on Indian skipper Virat Kohli when Michael Atherton asked him about their playing XI for the Oval Test on Thursday. Kohli replied the two changes were Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur coming in for Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, respectively, as Kohli said with four left handers in England side it’s a good match for Ravindra Jadeja and his seamers bowling over the wicket.
Did I hear it right? Yes, I did as Ravichandran Ashwin was again missing from the side in the fourth Test - which was indeed baffling and surprising to every cricket follower and the social media immediately went viral.
Ashwin has a terrific record against left handers - he is the only bowler to dismiss 200 left-handers in Test cricket’s history of 143 years and his average is a mindboggling at 19.55.
Kohli feels that Jadeja adds depth to their batting, but his scores in the series so far are: 10, 30, 4, 3, 40 and 56, which is around 200 runs in the six innings Jadeja has batted. To add it, Jadeja has just picked up only two wickets in the first three Test matches and has been primarily used up by his skipper to give a rest to the fast bowlers.
All the cricket pundits - from Michael Vaughan to politician Shashi Tharoor found the omission of Ashwin shocking - with Tharoor saying omitting Ashwin is like asking for a death wish and Vaughan felt it’s the biggest mistake in Test selection in Indian history. There were many who made diplomatic statements after Ashwin’s omission at a venue which is known to help spinners and with the heat wave expected in the next few days, Ashwin’s absence will be surely felt.
If India goes on to win this Test match, it will silence all but no matter what the result is, not playing Ashwin for the fourth consecutive Test is a mystery even Sherlock Holmes would not be able to solve!
- Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is Vice Chairman of Danube Group