Former England fast bowler Steve Harmison was surprised by Team India’s decision to drop Ravichandran Ashwin in favor of Ravindra Jadeja in the first of the 5-match Test series against England. India decided to go in with a lone spinner in Jadeja, while four pacers made the playing XI.
The move paid off in rich dividends, as the pacers shared all the 10 wickets the Men in Blue managed to grab on the first day. England folded up for 183, with Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami doing most of the damage, picking up four and three wickets respectively.
They learned from the devastating loss to New Zealand in the WTC Final last month. Talking about the selections, tall pacer Harmison expressed astonishment over Ashwin’s exclusion.
“I’m very surprised. I think the England cricket team might be having a little smile in that dressing room and thinking ‘we’re happy with Ashwin not playing’. He got runs with the bat and he was unbelievable with the ball in India. He has got a ridiculous number of wickets in English conditions. He played County cricket, got six wickets for Surrey not long ago,” he was quoted by ESPNcricinfo.
“India could beat themselves by not picking the right side” – Steve Harmison
Although Ravi Ashwin’s presence may not have been missed in the first innings, Harmison feels the off-spinner could still have made an impact even if there’s no turn on offer. In recent times, Ashwin has consistently improved his overall record in ‘SENA’ countries.
“India could beat themselves by not picking the right side. We’re talking about two senior spin bowlers who have bowled a lot of overs in Test cricket, who control the game even if the ball is not turning and still have a positive impact. As an Englishman, I’m over the moon with this Indian team because I think Ashwin should have been playing for India alongside Jadeja,” he added.
Indian openers survived a barrage of testing deliveries late in the evening and reached stumps without losing a wicket. Going into the second day, the forecast is not the best but India will look to erase more runs off the board.