It remains a surprise that Ravichandran Ashwin, the second-ranked ICC Test bowler and the in-form player, hasn’t featured in the ongoing series against England so far. This decision from the management has been heavily influenced by the balance of the team, and the conditions, in particular.
Ravichandran Ashwin, who was the Man of the Series against England at home earlier in the year, revealed in his YouTube show that he was likely to play in the second Test at Lord’s. But the change of conditions drastically on the morning of the game meant a fourth seamer – like in the first Test – was selected over the off-spinner.
After a draw in Nottingham, India won the Lord’s Test with a brilliant comeback on the last day of the game. Tailenders Jaaprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami forged an 89-run stand before the pacers bowled the hosts out inside two sessions.
I’d be amazed if Ravichandran Ashwin doesn’t play this week: Michael Vaughan
Former England captain Michael Vaughan is expecting Ravichandran Ashwin to start in the third Test at Headingley, which commences on Wednesday. He underpinned his expectations on the fact that the weather is dry in Leeds, and historically the pitch at Headingley offers plenty of assistance to the tweakers.
Vaughan reckons Ishant Sharma can make way for the off-spinner.
“It looks like it’s a very good week, it’s going to be very dry, nice and sunny so I’d be amazed if Ashwin doesn’t play this week. I think they will go with three pacers and two spinners, and I think that will be the right call at Headingley, it also packs the batting. Play your three out and out, outstanding quick bowlers. Maybe Ishant Sharma would miss out even though he bowled a nice spell on the last day at Lord’s,” Vaughan said on Cricbuzz.
“The last few years after seeing the England team play there and even county cricket, it’s got quite a bit of spin. You can get a bit of spin. It generally comes on Day 3, 4 and 5 but spin can play a part at Leeds.”
Shardul Thakur, who played in the first match, is also deemed fit for the third Test after missing the second due to injury. While India have happy selection headaches, Joe Root has lost another pacer – Mark Wood – to injury. Saqib Mahmood is likely to make his Test debut, while Dawid Malan is set to make his return to the Test side after three years.
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