Ravichandran Ashwin might be feeling hard done after he was not included in the Indian team playing XI for the first Test at Antigua of the ICC World Test Championship. It was a shocker for many former cricketers and Sunil Gavaskar even called it out on air during commentary. However, out of favor off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh feels he has the answer to why Ashwin was left out.
Ashwin, who had 60 wickets in 11 Tests against the Windies and has also hit four centuries against the Men in Maroon in the longest format, was almost confirmed to partner Ravindra Jadeja in the first Test, but the Virat Kohli-led team management went in for an extra batsman in Hanuma Vihari over the Tamil Nadu lad.
Ashwin no longer team’s premier spinner, feels Harbhajan
Harbhajan Singh, who has 417 wickets in 103 Tests, feels that Ashwin’s inconsistent performances outside India have cost him his place in the playing XI, as the management feels that he is no longer the team’s premier spinner. “If you see, there have been instances when Ashwin failed miserably in overseas conditions. For example, in the fourth Test against England in Southampton in 2018, Moeen Ali finished with a match- haul of nine wickets whereas Ashwin had three wickets in the match,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying by Telegraph.
Ashwin, who had 342 wickets and 2361 runs in 65 Test matches, couldn’t help India much on the tours of South Africa, England, and Australia in the past one year and struggled with both form and fitness, opening the door for Jadeja to return into the team and cement his spot. This was highlighted by Harbhajan in his statement.
“If you see during the Australia tour (in 2018-19), he got injured after the first Test but the team management kept him in the squad, hoping against hope he would recover. He could not. These things weigh a lot when it comes to choosing the first XI. Don’t forget, the Antigua Test is the first we are playing since the Sydney Test in January,” Harbhajan added.
Ashwin boasts of a brilliant record against the Windies and was the Man of the Series when India toured the Caribbean in 2016, as he claimed 17 wickets and made 350 runs.