As a Moeen Ali delivery spat up off the rough on Day 4 of the Lord’s Test, many Indian fans’ thoughts turned to off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. However, just about 24 hours later, there weren’t many complaints going aro.
India’s second-innings bowling performance was not just a victory for the ages but also a win for Virat Kohli’s ‘template’ of playing four quicks and a spinner. With the seamers getting the job done, the Indian captain’s decision to go with a four-pronged pace attack seemed justified.
But then, Ravichandran Ashwin picked up six wickets for Surrey in a county game at The Oval, where the fourth Test of the series will be played. Will this in any way force Kohli to tinker with his template?
Ravichandran Ashwin vs Ravindra Jadeja – What do stats say?
Ravichandran Ashwin once batted at No. 6 consistently and his two hundreds in the West Indies gave India the confidence to groom him as an all-rounder. However, since 2018, Ashwin has averaged just 18.22 away from home with 39* as his highest score.
Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, has grown into a reliable No. 7 batsman, averaging 43 away from home in the same period. While Ravichandran Ashwin has taken 10 more wickets than Jadeja in that tenure, it is his batting that has cost him his place when the specialist spinner is up for grabs.
After the failure of the three-two bowling attack in the World Test Championship (WTC) final, it is hard to see India going back to that plan and playing both Jadeja and Ashwin.
Jadeja has already scored a half-century this series and Kohli has been vocal about the balance that he provides to the side at No. 7. So it is highly unlikely that Ashwin will displace the left-arm spinner.
Shardul Thakur could be fit for the third Test
India’s wait for a seam bowling all-rounder after Hardik Pandya seemed to have ended when they decided to back Shardul Thakur at No. 8. His exploits with the bat at the Gabba (67) as well as seven wickets with the ball meant that he could be a great addition to the side.
While Thakur didn’t contribute with the bat at Trent Bridge, he picked up four crucial wickets and proved to be the go-to man for Virat Kohli.
Although Shardul Thakur may not have Ashwin’s batting ability, he could still be ahead in the pecking order thanks to his ability to produce genuine swing.
Ravichandran Ashwin – the batsman – was not missed at Trent Bridge and Lord’s
India’s tail wagging has always been a problem, especially in overseas conditions. Ravichandran Ashwin’s flashy 22 in the WTC final proved his ability to get crucial runs down the order.
However, in the most testing circumstances, India’s tail wagged not once, but twice so far in the series. At Trent Bridge, India managed to take a strong 95-run lead thanks to some important contributions from Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj for the last wicket.
At Lord’s, it was Mohammad Shami, who alongside Bumrah, added 89 crucial runs for the ninth wicket. Here again, no one was complaining about India’s long tail and the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin.
With India having taken a 1-0 lead in the series and three Tests to go, it is highly unlikely that Virat Kohli’s template will change. Unfortunately, the wait for Ravichandran Ashwin to play his next Test could be a long one.