Former India left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha has said that Ravindra Jadeja is preferred over Ravichandran Ashwin in overseas Tests because of his batting prowess. Jadeja was picked in the playing XI over Ashwin against England in all the four Tests played in August and September this year.
The last time Ashwin played in an overseas Test was the ICC World Test Championship final against New Zealand in June this year. He took four wickets in the game but the team lost the game by eight wickets on the reserve day.
In the five-match Test series against England in their backyard, the off-spinner was overlooked by the team management in the four games played. The Virat Kohli-led side preferred to play Ravindra Jadeja alongside four pacers in their playing XI.
The idea was to keep building the pressure on the opposition which four pacers and Jadeja provided useful runs in the lower middle order. Meanwhile, Ojha, while speaking with another former India cricketer Aakash Chopra recalled the times when either Harbhajan Singh or Anil Kumble used to sit out keeping the opposition in mind.
Pragyan Ojha explains why Harbhajan Singh or Anil Kumble used to sit out
“When Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were playing, the thinking of the team was different. The team management always wanted specialist spinners in the side which India had two in Kumble and Harbhajan. Both were quite exceptional. So Harbhajan would play when the opposition had more left-handers in the side and Kumble was mostly present as the first spinner in the team,” said Pragyan Ojha on Aakash Chopra’s YouTube channel.
Ojha added that the mindset of the current Indian team is to play five batsmen as they have Jadeja who contributes with the bat in India and overseas. He also added that this mindset means Ashwin and Jadeja play together at home while Jadeja makes a strong case overseas.
“Now, the thinking has changed. The captain wants to go with five batters. When you go in with five batters and have Jadeja as an option, he makes 30-40 runs on a consistent basis in away conditions and 60, 70, or 80 runs in Indian conditions. This makes both spinners play in India while Jadeja makes a strong case for himself for overseas Tests. Maybe that is why he is being selected over Ashwin,” Ojha added.
Currently, the Saurashtra-allrounder is set to miss out on the three-match Test series against South Africa on their home soil starting from December 26 due to injury. Ashwin is likely to be the first choice spinner in South Africa given his credentials.