Former Indian batsman VVS Laxman isn't impressed with Virat Kohli and the team management's call to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin from the Test series opener against England. He stated that the way Ashwin performed in the series Down Under, he should have been part of the team in Nottingham.
When Virat Kohli announced India's playing XI at the toss today, the decision to leave out ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin left everyone shocked. The way Ashwin had performed in Australia, bamboozling the team's top batters, had made his selection in the XI inevitable. Not only in Australia, but he was impressive in the WTC finale as well, and backed it up with another good show in the County game after that. He has also shown considerable improvement in his batting displays, with his Sydney and Chennai knocks helping the team immensely in 2021.
Reflecting on the decision to axe Ashwin, former Indian batsman VVS Laxman stated that he would have liked to see the experienced spinner in action, given he's a sheer match-winner. He was left surprised by Kohli and the team management's decision.
"But for me, if you’re picking a bowler who can bat at No. 8, I would go for someone who can give me match-winning performances, and that will be R Ashwin. I would have gone with the balance which the Indian team had for the WTC final. I don’t know why Virat Kohli and the team management went with this team combination. The only logic I see in this is that Thakur can bat and the way he bowled in Brisbane. I just feel for R Ashwin. He is a class bowler and you can’t keep him out of the Playing XI," Laxman said on ESPNCricinfo, reported HT.
Laxman also reminded one and all about Ashwin's displays in Australia, which were remarkable as he was outfoxing Australia's big fishes in India's epic series win.
"I always felt that Ravichandran Ashwin is a very skillful bowler and what we have seen recently with his overseas performance, they have been brilliant. When India beat Australia in Australia, the way he go rid of Steve Smith consistently shows how confident he is. When I see the team here, they have gone with Shardul Thakur, probably as a medium-pace option who can also provide some depth in batting."
It has been argued that India went with the decision to field both Shardul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja as they provide an extra cushion with the bat to the Indian team. However, the Indian cricket expert opined that he would rather back a match-winner like Ashwin.
"I don’t give too much value to someone who is batting at 8. I would be going with four top-class wicket-taking bowlers, and then at No. 7, I’ll have my all-rounder who can chip in either with the bat or ball. And that all-rounder is Ravindra Jadeja," Laxman added.
"Ashwin has shown over the last couple of years that he is a match-winner by putting pressure on the best of batsmen. The way he troubled Steve Smith on flat wickets shows how much confidence he has got."