Ravichandran Ashwin, the off-spinner sat out the first four Tests played last year when India took a 2-1 lead but could come into the reckoning in the final rescheduled Test, which was postponed due to Covid-19 starting at Edgbaston on Friday 1st July.
Ravichandran Ashwin the team man, however, took immense pride in India’s performance against England last year but personally admitted that it was a frustrating experience to sit out all the four Test matches. His best chance to play was at The Oval, in the third Test, when there was a case to play two spinners. The team management, however, preferred to go with just one spinner, picking Ravindra Jadeja.
As luck would have it, the fifth Test was postponed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 cases in the Indian camp and it has been rescheduled to be held at Edgbaston, a venue known to assist spinners, from Friday. There is new team management in place with Rohit Sharma as captain and Rahul Dravid as a coach.
If the current think-tank feels confident of the off-spinner’s effectiveness, then the fifth Test could well turn out to be Ravichandran Ashwin’s first of the series. Even though his departure to England was delayed after testing positive for Covid-19, he bowled well in the second innings of the warm-up game against Leicestershire. It didn’t take long to shrug off the long Indian Premier League 2022.
“I have had my own mental conditioning coach. I have gone through a lot personally, and I tend to forget things very quickly now. So, what’s happened last year in England I have forgotten it; only the good things I try to carry forward.
“I will be so happy and gunning for the team to win 3-1 because I can turn back and say I was in an Indian team which won in Australia, which won in England. Unfortunately we couldn’t win in South Africa, so that’s what I want,” said Ravichandran Ashwin on the sidelines of an event held recently in Mumbai.
“I have been taught cricket very differently. You can’t challenge conditions, if the conditions are against you, you have to make the best choices. Somewhere I feel these things go out of the window and personal vendetta does come through and that’s why I have this habit of saying, ‘okay forget things and move on’,” said Ravichandran Ashwin, who has taken 442 wickets in 86 Tests.
The spinner has an impressive record in County cricket with seven five-wicket hauls in 10 matches. Ravichandran Ashwin made a welcome return after his Covid-19 isolation to bowl and pick up two wickets on the final day of India’s tour match against a Leicestershire XI.
Like Ravichandran Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara’s place in the side has also been questioned from time to time despite some fine displays overseas. Cheteshwar Pujara lost his place in the team after India’s series loss in South Africa at the start of the year. He has earned his spot back in the squad with a series of tall scores in County cricket.
“Pujara was a thoroughbred Test cricketer always. Sometimes it’s just my thought process, in India, IPL is the biggest stage at this point of time and sometimes… we can tend to get carried away by the stage. Pujara has remained authentic. With respect to all that, we need to understand that he has done a very thankless job.”
“He walks in at No 3, he doesn’t complain, he keeps grinding it out. I am so glad he went and made runs and earned his place back in the side. At the end of the day, good guys should win, they shouldn’t finish last.”
Cheteshwar Pujara made a significant impact in the County Championship 2022 after being dropped from India’s Test side earlier this year. The seasoned campaigner mustered 720 runs in five games for Sussex and was able to make a comeback to the national side because of it. In 2020, he averaged 20.38 in the 4 Test matches that he played, and in 2021, he played 14 Tests and could only average 28.08 which is not great when one looks at a batter like him.
The 34-year-old Cheteshwar Pujara, who was left out of India’s home Test series against Sri Lanka earlier this year, forced his way back into the national team for the fifth Test against England after County success.
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