The top two teams in the WTC 2021-23 cycle face off in the Ultimate Test starting Wednesday at The Oval in London.
The selection conundrum India had been facing was picking between Test legend and one of the all-time great off-spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Shardul Thakur, who the side views as a seam-bowling all-rounder. India have gone with the Palghar pacer over the Tamil Nadu off-spinner despite Australia have four left-handers in their top 7.
Why is Ravichandran Ashwin dropped from WTC Final 2023?
After electing to bowl first, captain Rohit Sharma highlighted that the conditions at The Oval are much more friendly for pacers and hence they have gone with an additional pacer in Shardul Thakur over off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.
Sharma said that dropping Ravichandran Ashwin is a decision “that’s needed for the team” and he admitted that it was a really tough call to axe Ashwin, who has been a “match-winner for us over the course of so many years”.
At the toss Rohit Sharma said: “We are going to bowl. Just the conditions and also the weather being overcast. I don’t think the pitch will change too much. You have to play good cricket and come out on top. Four seamers and one spinner. The spinner is Jadeja. It’s always tough (to leave Ashwin), he’s been a match-winner for us over the course of so many years. But you got to do the things that’s needed for the team and eventually, we came up with that decision. “
R Ashwin had featured in the WTC Final 2021 against New Zealand which India lost in Southampton where conditions were heavily favoring pacers; New Zealand went with four pacers and a seam-bowling all-rounder. India then dropped Ashwin from the 5 Tests against England for Thakur, who performed better with the bat and with the ball.
India have tried to replicate similarly today with Shami, Siraj, Umesh and Shardul and Jadeja the sole spinner. Australia’s bowling attack comprises three genuine pacers – Cummins, Starc, and Boland – plus seam-bowling all-rounder Cameron Green and off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
Interestingly, Ashwin’s bowling averages in England is a good 28, while Thakur’s is 33.
Australia (Playing XI): David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey(w), Pat Cummins(c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland
India (Playing XI): Rohit Sharma(c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Srikar Bharat(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj