India vs England: Ravichandran Ashwin sits out again as India punt on pace | Cricket News

Justifying his decision to leave champion off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin out of the playing XI again, skipper Virat Kohli said, “We announced the 12 within the group and Ashwin definitely was part of that. But after looking at the pitch, the conditions and considering how a fourth seamer can be an attacking option, this makes the most sense for us as a team.” So in came Ishant Sharma for the second Test at Lord’s on Thursday as replacement for the injured Shardul Thakur, who has a hamstring niggle.
And just as Kohli was saying those words, one could see Ashwin sending out a few deliveries with the support staff on one of the practice pitches. Perhaps he was also sending a message to the team management. It was the second time in two games that Kohli had left out his ace spinner, his go-to man just about six weeks ago in the World Test Championship final in Southampton against New Zealand. Ashwin, for the record, has 413 scalps in 79 Tests and had a productive outing for Surrey in the one game he turned out for them at the Oval, scalping six wickets. He also had the upper hand over Aussie mainstays Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne in the series Down Under and struck telling blows. What has changed in six weeks’ time?
Nothing. Kohli has a fascination for pace as he likes the assurance of an extra seamer in case one of the quickies is having an off day or is flagging, as was the case with Jasprit Bumrah in the WTC final.
India are in a similar situation that they were in when they played in overseas conditions under Sourav Ganguly in the 2000s. Before the MCG Test of the 2003 Australia series, Ganguly often left out the more experienced Anil Kumble in favour of Harbhajan Singh, as he played with three seamers and an extra batsman at No. 6.
It was only after Kumble developed a googly and other weapons to succeed overseas that he had a productive second wind. Ashwin too, like Kumble, has evolved. His stock ball, the off-spinner, has greater drift now and turns more. He even has a very good straighter one, bowled with a legal action.
Ashwin has had to endure a frustrating time on the bench in overseas conditions in Tests even under MS Dhoni as he too favoured the more economical Jadeja and trusted his batting skills more.

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