The upcoming Test series against West Indies could potentially shape Ravichandran Ashwin‘s future with the Indian team. The star off-spinner has already lost his place in ODI and T20I teams and faces a similar prospect in Tests too. Ashwin’s struggles with his fitness and form in overseas conditions has coincided with Kuldeep Yadav‘s meteoric rise.
Ashwin missed quite a number of crucial overseas Tests last year. Overall, Ashwin missed as many as five Tests in South Africa, England and Australia last year. He did not get a chance in the playing eleven for the Johannesburg Test before missing the last Test in England with a groin injury.
His injury woes then came back to haunt him in Australia too. After an impressive show in the first Test in Adelaide, the off-spinner could not play in the remainder of the series due to a left-sided abdominal strain. On the other hand, Kuldeep made the most of the opportunity that came his way in Australia. He played the final Test in Australia and picked up an impressive five-wicket haul. That spell had made coach Ravi Shastri say Kuldeep will be India’s “No. 1 spinner in Tests away from home” going forward.
Thus Ashwin faces a litmus test against West Indies. Another poor outing outside home could very well see him lose his Test spot too. And ahead of the series, veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh has increased the pressure on Ashwin by saying that he would pick Kuldeep over the Tamil Nadu ace.
“On current form, my No. 1 spinner will surely be Kuldeep for the way he takes the ball away from the left-handers and his wicket-taking abilities. Ravindra Jadeja, too, has made most of his chances in Tests. Probably the only thing working in Ashwin’s favour is his superb record against West Indies,” Harbhajan told The Times of India.
The last time Ashwin played in West Indies, he got 17 wickets and was the Man of the Series. The two-match Test series would start on August 22.