On Wednesday, at Headingley, for the first time, Virat Kohli won the toss as a Test captain on England shores. However, it wasn’t the only subject fans were eagerly keeping their eyes on. It was the news that Ravichandran Ashwin once again – for the third Test in a row – will sit on the bench that has blown up the debate.
Virat Kohli announced that they will be going with the same eleven for the third Test – only the fourth time in 64 Tests Kohli has played unchanged XIs in successive Tests – which won them the second match at Lord’s.
We thought about getting Ashwin in Virat Kohli
Ashwin, the second-ranked ICC Test bowler, and fourth-ranked all-rounder is yet to feature in the series, and his wait extends for another game, as the management decided to go again for a four-pronged pace attack plus the services of Ravindra Jadeja as the all-rounder who bowls spin.
This, despite the fact that dry weather and turn in the second half of the game predicted. India, in not for a follow-on, would be bowling fourth on the pitch, and hence Ashwin’s proven efficacy on drier surfaces would have been handy.
Explaining his decision to leave out the champion off-spinner for the third Test, Virat Kohli, at the toss, said they initially pondered over including Ashwin in the eleven, but then decided against it and went with an extra pacer to create similar pressure as they had done in the previous two Tests. He believes a seamer would be more effective in English conditions than a spinner.
Kohli also admitted that the conditions will at some point assist the spinners and he would have to rely on Jadeja to bowl more overs than he had done in the first two Tests.
“We thought about getting Ashwin in, and the pressure of the extra seamer in these conditions is crucial. Jadeja will bowl a lot more overs because the conditions are suited to him. You can lay down markers and a culture, but it’s upto the boys to take it up and win from pressure situations. It’s all about handling pressure at the highest level,” the Indian skipper said at the toss.
Virat Kohli decided to bat first. Joe Root said he didn’t mind batting second as he felt the pitch will get better for batting as the game progresses. The English skipper made a couple of changes: Craig Overton comes in for the injured Mark Wood, and Dawid Malan returns to the Test eleven after three years replacing Dom Sibley.