The senior-most Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels that Ravichandran Ashwin has lost his regular Test place due to his poor performances in the recent overseas Test matches.
Many experts and cricket fans have shocked after not seeing the off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing XI for the first Test of the two-match Test series against the host Windies. The former no.1-ranked Test bowler Ashwin is one of the top performers against Windies in Test cricket.
Till the date, Ashwin has played 11 Tests against Windies where he has taken 60 wickets with an average of 21.85. Moreover, he has also scored 552 runs (average 50.18), including four centuries.
In the last Caribbean tour in 2016, Ashwin scored 235 runs (average 58.75) and also took 17 wickets in four Test matches. During that tour, the right-handed lower-order batsman hit two centuries. While India won that Test series by 2-0, Ashwin won the Player of the Series award.
However, the team management has chosen the left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja as the lone spinner for India in the ongoing first Test at Antigua.
Ashwin is no longer the go-to man – Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh feels Ashwin’s recent miserable failure in the overseas conditions was the reason to miss out the Antigua Test. Talking about this, Harbhajan brought out the example of Ashwin’s bowling performance during the Southampton Test last year.
Harbhajan told according to the Telegraph, “If you see, there have been instances when Ashwin failed miserably in overseas conditions. For example, in the fourth Test against England in Southampton in 2018, Moeen Ali finished with a match- haul of nine wickets whereas Ashwin had three wickets in the match.
“Both are finger spinners, but with different performances. My hunch is that the team management feels when it comes to overseas tours, Ashwin is no longer the go-to man.”
It was the crucial fourth Test of the five-match Test series between the hosts England and India. Trailing by 2-1 that series, India was depended on Ashwin in that game as the track was spin-friendly. However, he failed to perform strongly as his bowling figures in that Test were 14.4-3-40-2 and 37.1-7-84-1.
Meanwhile, the English off-spinner Moeen Ali was the hero of that match after bagging nine wickets in that whole game. In that game, Ali had the bowling figures of 16-1-63-5 and 26-3-71-4. Ali helped England to win that Test by 60 runs and secure that home Test series.
The senior off-spinner also added Ashwin’s unavailability during most of the Australia tour
Harbhajan further pointed out Ashwin’s unavailability during most of the last Australia tour. Ashwin featured in the opening Test match of the four-match Test series at Adelaide last December. He later missed out the playing XIs of that Test series due to the injury. Harbhajan feels that the fitness issue crushed Ashwin’s opportunity to justify himself.
The Punjab spinner added, “If you see during the Australia tour (in 2018-19), he got injured after the first Test but the team management kept him in the squad, hoping against hope he would recover. He could not. These things weigh a lot when it comes to choosing a first XI. Don’t forget, the Antigua Test is the first we are playing since the Sydney Test in January.”
Meanwhile, Jadeja has counted the latest opportunity in the Antigua Test as very crucial. His impressive first-innings batting (58 runs) has set a good tone for the visiting side in this Test match. Also, the left-arm spinner took two wickets (2/64) during Windies’ first innings.