Former Pakistani spinner Danish Kaneria has raised questions over India’s decision to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin for the Birmingham Test against England. According to him, the off-spinner could have made an impact in the match by exploiting the patches that have developed on the surface.
The Birmingham Test saw a complete turnaround on Day 4 as England gained the ascendancy following a tremendous fightback with both the bat and ball. After restricting India to 245 in their second innings, the hosts went to stumps in a commanding position at 259 for three while chasing 378.
Criticizing India’s decision to leave out Ashwin from the playing XI for the Birmingham Test, Kaneria said while speaking on his YouTube channel:
“I just can’t understand the logic of leaving out a world-class bowler like Ashwin. Remember, this is the summer season in England. Rahul Dravid has played a lot of cricket here, both for India and in county as well.
"Everyone knows that during the summer, wickets start helping the spinners late on Day 2 and Day 3. Even yesterday, there were patches on the wicket, which Ashwin could have exploited. India are missing him big time in this Test.”
Incidentally, the veteran off-spinner was left out of the playing XI for all four Tests during India’s previous visit to England in 2021.
“The game is almost gone now as far as India are concerned” - Danish Kaneria
Looking ahead to Day 5 of the match, Kaneria opined that the match has all but slipped out of India’s grasp. The former leg-spinner commented:
“The game is almost gone now as far as India are concerned.”
Critical of India’s body language in the field, Kaneria added:
“They were lethargic in the first session. Everybody was down. There was some spark after tea. Bumrah took a wicket and then there was a run out as well. After that, they again looked lifeless. Bairstow and Root played perfect Test cricket. The match is very much in England's grasp now."
India began Day 4 in the ascendancy with a lead of 257 and seven wickets in hand. However, Ben Stokes (4/33) ran through India's lower order to restrict them to 245.
England’s openers Alex Lees (56) and Zak Crawley (46) then added 107 for the first wicket before Joe Root (76*) and Jonny Bairstow (72*) put the hosts in complete command of proceedings.