Virat Kohli surprised everyone with the team combination when Jason Holder invited India to bat first in the first test against West Indies in Antigua. There was no Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, Kuldeep Yadav or WriddhimanSaha. However, the talk of the town was the exclusion of Ashwin and Rohit. Ravindra Jadeja was picked as the single spinner and Hanuma Vihari as the sixth batsman.
Ashwin boasts of a formidable record against Holder and Co. against whom he has scored 552 runs with four hundreds and has taken 60 wickets with four five-fors in 11 Tests (home and away). Former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar was astonished at the axing.
An angry-looking Gavaskar said sitting in the commentary box, “it is stunning and astonishing that a man with that kind of record, especially against West Indies doesn’t find a place in the playing XI.”
Fans claim rift as the reason
There are claims that the much-talked-about rift between Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli was the reason behind Sharma’s exclusion. Though Test cricket is not Rohit’s fore, he averages just 39 in the longest format, the opposition definitely made a case for him. He has scored 2 of his 3 Test centuries against West Indies, including 2 in his first 2 matches.
Rohit has lately been in magnificent form in the limited-overs format and gave ample example of his splendid run during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 and former Indian captain, Sourav Ganguly had suggested using Rohit as an opener.
Rahane defends decision
However, Ajinkya Rahane defended team selection. He told reporters after the stumps on 1st day, “it’s difficult when you miss a player like Ashwin but team management is always thinking as to what is the best combination. The management thought Jadeja was a good option on this wicket as we needed a sixth batsman, who can actually bowl,” Rahane added. He said that the coach and captain had a discussion and wanted more options and Vihari can actually bowl on this track.
Case for Saha
Meanwhile, amid all the hullabaloo, one thing that skipped everyone’s mind was the exclusion of wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha. Saha averages 30 in 32 games he has played and has scored 3 centuries. He has been particularly good overseas where the majority of the batsmen struggle to leave a mark.
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