Former South African cricketer Jonty Rhodes feels that it’s the captain Virat Kohli’s decision whether to include a second spinner in Ravichandran Ashwin. Considering the conditions, Kohli might continue to favour an all-seam bowling attack, as per Rhodes.
Being India’s premier spinner, Ashwin was expected to play in the 5-match Test series against England. However, he hasn’t found a place yet in the side so far and may not be brought in considering how successful India’s pace battery has been.
Speaking on the matter with TOI, Jonty Rhodes believes that the strategy adopted by Kohli’s men and the management has worked so far. Therefore, it’s hard to conclude whether Ashwin warranted a place in the side with the conditions in mind.
“When you are 1-0 up in the series already, it’s quite difficult to say that he [Ashwin] should have been in, but it’s a team selection that up until now, everybody’s sort of backed Virat Kohli and the management, with regards to the team that has been selected,” Rhodes stated.
“There are only 11 places, someone’s got to sit out” – Jonty Rhodes
India went in with two spinners and three pacers in the World Test Championship (WTC) final which didn’t work out well for them. Keeping that in mind, the team might have decided to bring in a fourth pacer and play the solitary spinner in Ravindra Jadeja. So far, he has only contributed with one wicket, with the pacers having picked up all the wickets.
“You can only play 11 players and it’s up to the captain to decide because he leads on the field to really believe that this is the best 11 players that we have that will take 20 wickets in the game to win a Test match. That is your priority and maybe it is about an all-out seam attack.“
“From that point of view, yes, Ashwin has incredible figures and I don’t think his Test career is over. But right now, what Kohli is facing, with his team in England, maybe he just doesn’t see that as the correct balance in the starting 11. There are only 11 places, someone’s got to sit out,” Rhodes added.
It will be interesting to see if Ashwin is brought in for the last two Tests. Much of that will depend on how India fares in the second innings at Headingley.