India have gone in with just one spinner in the form of Ravindra Jadeja for the Nottingham Test as they have included seam-bowling all-rounder Shardul Thakur as their fourth seamer.
The decision to bench R. Ashwin has been met with mixed reactions. Ashwin has been at the peak of his powers as a Test match bowler in the past 8-10 months.
The highest wicket-taker in the first ICC WTC cycle, Ashwin played a stellar role in India’s win over Australia where he created a stranglehold around Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne.
He has rediscovered his batting mojo as well. The off-spinner played a substantial role in India saving the Sydney Test and then backed it up with a match-winning ton against England at his home venue.
Reacting to Ashwin’s axing on ESPNcricinfo’, VVS Laxman echoed the above facts while stating that the Tamil Nadu cricketer has massively improved his performances in SENA countries.
“I always felt Ashwin is a very skillful bowler. Abe what we have seen recently is his overseas performances are also brilliant and he has done very well especially when India beat Australia in Australia, the way he got rid of Steve Smith consistently shows how confident he is,” said VVS Laxman.
Laxman further stated that while India has gone with Shardul Thakur because he can swing the ball besides giving batting depth, he would have gone with someone who can pull off match-winning performances with the ball and that’s Ashwin.
“They have gone with Shardul Thakur as a medium pace option and who can also provide depth in the batting department. But for me, if you are going to pick a bowler who can bat at No.8, I will go with the bowler who can give me match-winning performances with the ball and that’s Ravichandran Ashwin,” said Laxman.
The former cricketer reckoned that a fourth seamer always tends to get under-bowled and he would have picked the same combination that India picked in the WTC final.
“I would have actually gone with the balance which the Indian team had in the WTC final. Ravichandran Ashwin as the premier spinner and Ravindra Jadeja as spin-bowling all-rounder. I have played in teams when the 4th pacer was under bowled..so, I don’t know why Virat Kohli and team management went with this combination. The only reasoning and logic I see is Shardul can also bat and the way he bowled in Brisbane must have encouraged them. But, I feel for Ashwin. He is a class bowler, you can’t keep him out of the playing XI,” said Laxman.