Former India spinner Venkatapathy Raju said Ravichandran Ashwin should have been the first-choice spinner for India in the first Test against England, but he also said that he understands the reason for going in with Ravindra Jadeja. A few eyebrows were raised when Ashwin was omitted from the lineup for the opening Test as the Virat Kohli-led side went in with four seamers – Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, Shardul Thakur – and one spinner in Jadeja. “Whoever follows cricket, they all have their opinions right? If someone has taken 400 wickets and he is not getting a chance, there will be questions raised and that has already started to happen. But then, the team management is better to judge. England went in without a spinner and the Indian team went in with four seamers and one spinner,” Raju told ANI.
“There is a lot of discussion about it. Jadeja comes in as an all-rounder whenever you go abroad. That is the problem one spinner faces. When Harbhajan was doing well, Sourav got him in and Kumble also had to go through this. We all feel Ashwin should have been part of the XI as he is a wicket-taking bowler. Ashwin should have been the first-choice spinner,” he added.
The first Test between India and England ended in a draw after rain played spoilsport on the final day of the Test.
The visitors needed 157 runs to win on the final day with nine wickets in hand, but the weather gods had something else in mind.
Talking about the first Test, Raju said: “We (India) dominated all the sessions right from Day 1. We were in a good position but you cannot do anything with the weather, right.
“The only area of concern we had was that there were not enough matches for India heading into the first Test, but the team came back strongly.
“The way they performed, you have to give credit to the team. I think they have started on a good note.”
India skipper Virat Kohli disappointed in the first Test as he was dismissed for a golden duck by James Anderson in the first innings.
The battle between Anderson and Kohli has over the years managed to grab eyeballs and it is one of the most exciting spectacles in the longest format.
“It is always the best bowler versus best batsman. In 2014, Kohli got out to Anderson four times. In the next tour, Anderson was not that successful. This is the kind of battle people look forward to, that is the buzz,” said Raju.
“Great players always come back. First ball you cannot do anything, but first ball getting out, now the battle has started. People will be waiting to see this battle.
“In the 90s, the battle was between Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar. That is how it goes, champions always find a way to come back,” said Raju.
Talking about too much noise around the form of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, Raju said: “This is not a question of pressure, this is what they expect from them right? They have been playing for so many years, Pujara is close to 100 matches, Rahane has been doing well abroad.
“This is what happens when expectations are there, that is the standard they have created for themselves, the buzz will always be there. It is just the first Test. As long as you are winning, this should not be a matter of concern.”
The former spinner also said that he would be disappointed if India do not manage to defeat England as the hosts have a fragile batting line-up and Kohli’s team has the arsenal to disrupt it further.
“That is what has been happening. England players hardly played county games before the series because of the bubble. They just played one-two matches.
“The talent you can see, performance wise, this England line-up is as fragile as it gets. After seeing the 1st Test after how India dominated and if they do not win, we will all be surprised.
“We have been world number one for a long time, probably the best bowling attack we have now, if we do not win this series, we all will be surprised,” Raju signed off.
The second Test will be played at Lord’s from August 12.
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