Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar is baffled by Team India’s decision to bench Ravichandran Ashwin, the No. 1 Test bowler, for the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia at the Oval in London.
As the bowling unit failed to deliver on the first day on Wednesday (June 7), Gavaskar questioned the Indian thinktank for leaving out Ashwin, who has scalped 114 wickets in 22 Tests against Australia. The former player reckons Umesh Yadav should have made way for the off-spinner in the XI, telling Star Sports on air:
"India missed a trick by not playing Ravi Ashwin. He's the No. 1 Ranked bowler. You don't look at the pitch for players like him."
“You are playing a World Test Championships final, and you don’t pick the number one bowler in Test cricket. This decision from Team India is beyond my understanding. I would have picked him in place of Umesh Yadav, who was out of action and looks out of rhythm.”
The cricketer-turned-commentator added that the 36-year-old could have been a good weapon for Team India, especially against Australia's left-handed batters.
“There are four left-handed batters in this Australian side, and he has traditionally done well against them. It is shocking that there isn’t any off-spinner in this side.”
The statement came after left-handed batter Travis Head (146*) smashed a century against India on Day 1.
“India missed a trick by not including a match-winner like R Ashwin” – Sourav Ganguly
Former BCCI president Sourav Ganguly also questioned Team India’s decision to leave out the ace spinner for the WTC final, telling Star Sports:
“India missed a trick by not including a match-winner like R Ashwin. In hindsight, it seems he would have been a better call, as Jadeja isn’t getting the support from the other end. Jadeja is putting pressure from his end, but there is no one to choke the flow of runs from the other side.”
Australia closed Day 1 on 327-3, with Travis Head (146*) and Steve Smith (95*) at the crease.
For India, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur took one wicket apiece.
Click here to follow the WTC 2023 final scores