Ravichandran Ashwin with Rohit Sharma during a drinks break on Day 1 of WTC final.© Twitter
Australian greats Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting have slammed India’s decision to drop premier off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin for the World Test Championship final against Australia. Ashwin, who is the No 1 bowler in Test cricket and India’s leading wicket-taker in the 2021-23 WTC cycle, was dropped as the Rohit Sharma-led side bolstered the pace ammunition by playing four seamers. “I feel that Ravichandran Ashwin is such a key factor, the leading wicket taker in the Tests cycle is not there. There are a few factors worth pondering on in Team India’s perspective,” Hayden told ICC after the day one’s proceedings.
In the absence of Ashwin, left-armer Ravindra Jadeja is the sole spinner in the playing XI and he went wicketless as India struggled to break the 251-run partnership between Travis Head (146 batting) and Steve Smith (95 batting).
With Head’s blistering century, his first in England, combined with Smith’s resolute show Australia took the day one honours with 327/3 on the board.
World Cup-winning captain Ponting termed Ashwin’s exclusion a “mistake”.
“So far for me, it looks like it was a mistake from them by playing the four seamers, but we will see how the game pans out,” Ponting told the ICC.
“As this game goes on, I have got no doubt that there is going to be turn. Australia have got a lot of left-handers in their batting line-up to which Ashwin would have been perfectly suited for,” he said, as Ashwin is the most successful bowler in Tests against left-handers.
There was also debate over Rohit’s “bowl-first” decision after winning the toss and Hayden said the Indian skipper may have “missed a trick”.
“I feel they may have missed a trick at the toss. Even if Pat Cummins said he would have liked to bowled, I secretly think Australia always like to bat first in Tests.
“I feel like Rohit Sharma was caught into thinking that we’re going to play the day rather than playing the Test match.”
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