In his first Test as India‘s captain, Jasprit Bumrah made a bold call by leaving out R Ashwin for the Edgbaston Test versus England.
Ashwin is the second-ranked ICC Test bowler and all-rounder, and with 442 wickets, the Tamil Nadu off-spinner is India’s all-time second-highest wicket-taker. However, these credentials didn’t get him the place in the eleven ahead of seam-bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur.
India have continued the five bowler strategy that they used to success in the four Tests vs England last year which helped them take a series lead of 2-1 before the fifth Test got postponed due to covid-19 outbreak in the visitors’ camp.
R Ashwin didn’t play in the 4 Tests of this series last year as well
Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Ravindra Jadeja were the certainties in the line-up for today. The question had been around whether India needed a pace-bowling all-rounder in Thakur or a spin-bowling all-rounder in Ashwin; the new management, like the previous management, went with Thakur. Ashwin also sat on the bench of all the four Tests last year as well.
A certain Ben Stokes, the England captain, would perhaps be happy to not see Ashwin in the opposition line-up after being dismissed 11 times in Test cricket by the off-spinner.
Thakur had vindicated his selection at the Oval last year, hammering twin fifties in the game with the bat and picked 7 wickets at an average of 22 in 2 Tests that he played in this series.
Also, Bumrah announced that Cheteshwar Pujara will open alongside Shubman Gill in the absence of both Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul, the two first-choice openers and India’s two best batters in the four Tests.
India (Playing XI): Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah(c)
England (Playing XI): Alex Lees, Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes(c), Sam Billings(w), Matty Potts, Stuart Broad, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Twitter erupted with different emotions upon learning that Ashwin has once again been benched.
Here are the best reactions on Ashwin’s exclusion from the eleven:
Hope propagradists will now understand that was not some ego issue of Virat Kohli for which he didn’t select Ashwin in the XI during last series. It was based on sound Cricketing logic, which is now being used as a template even by Rahul Dravid himself.
— Ricky talks Cricket (@CricRicky) July 1, 2022
Jadeja ahead of Ashwin & this what balanced the XI.!Hope those who were reporting those ego problem between Ashwin & Kohli will understand it.!
— Deep Point (@ittzz_spidey) July 1, 2022
No Ashwin again makes this game 20% less interesting
— Tom Carpenter (@Carpo34) July 1, 2022
Most 4-wicket hauls Away from home by an active spinner in Tests
Nathan Lyon – 23
R Ashwin – 13
Moeen Ali – 9
Jack Leach – 8
Shakib Al Hasan- 8#SLvAUS | #NathanLyon
— Cricbaba (@thecricbaba) July 1, 2022
No Ashwin, let’s go!
— Prajakta (@18prajakta) July 1, 2022
still no Ashwin #ENGvIND pic.twitter.com/z7PWNPCp2g
— Dan (@danjadz_) July 1, 2022
According to some Virat is jealous of Ashwin that’s why he didn’t’t included him in the playing 11 last year
But today he is no more the captain but yet Ashwin is not playing, why??
— HARSH (@hstopper12) July 1, 2022
When Kohli didn’t select Ashwin, there was outrage. Why all are silent now?
— Sai Krishna (@SaiKingkohli) July 1, 2022
Feel for R Ashwin.Why take him all the way if you are not going to play him in the eleven? He could have played in the TNPL,at least.
Against an aggressive English batting, esp.Stokes & Bairstow, he could have been valuable.
New coach. New captain. Same treatment. Sad. #Ashwin
— Ashwin Murali (@ashwinmurali) July 1, 2022
The famous question of Where is Ashwin? remained valid throughout this Test series. https://t.co/a25Vjm5dLl
— Aditya (@Adityakrsaha) July 1, 2022
I feel for R. Ashwin. World’s best spinner at the moment had to sit out for all 5 games.#INDvsENG
— Keyur Chauhan (@Keyur_chauhan) July 1, 2022
If the texture of the Edgbaston pitch is brownish, Indian team think tank may pick Ashwin in place of Jadeja because there are 2 left hand batters in the top order of England batting line up and one of them is Ben Stokes who loves playing against left arm spinners.
— Makarand Waingankar (@wmakarand) July 1, 2022
“Play the specialist spinner in Ashwin over Jadeja at 7” pic.twitter.com/a619vMeVW6
— rajdeep das (@rajdeepcric) July 1, 2022
No Ashwin! Advantage England. pic.twitter.com/fcCQuLO81w
— Phil Blundell (@blunders83) July 1, 2022