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'England would be smiling; India could beat themselves': Former Eng pacer feels R Ashwin 'should have’ played 1st Test

Although India's team selection did not haunt them as the fast bowlers did a fantastic job to bundle England out for 183, with Jasprit Bumrah leading the attack with 4/46 and Mohammed Shami picking up 3/28.
UPDATED ON AUG 05, 2021 08:32 AM IST
FILE -India's Ravichandran Ashwin.(AP)

That India decided to leave out their leading spinner in Test matches, R Ashwin out of the Playing XI for the series opener in Nottingham sparked a debate and raised a few eyebrows. The off-spinner has been on a hot run of form lately and even picked up a five-wicket-haul for Surrey against Somerset in a County Championship game. And yet, Virat Kohli and the team management felt that it was better for them to include four fast bowlers and one spinner in Ravindra Jadeja.

Although India's team selection did not haunt them as the fast bowlers did a fantastic job to bundle England out for 183, with Jasprit Bumrah leading the attack with 4/46 and Mohammed Shami picking up 3/28, former England fast bowler Steve Harmison feels Ashwin should have been part of that Playing XI.

"I’m surprised; I’m very surprised. I think the England cricket team might be having a little smile in that dressing room and thinking ‘we’re happy with Ashwin not playing’. He got runs with the bat; he was unbelievable with the ball in India. Ashwin has got a ridiculous number of wickets in English conditions. He played County cricket, got six wickets against Surrey not long ago," Harmison said on ESPNCricinfo.

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At stumps on Day 1, India were 21/0, trailing England by 162 runs, and Harmison believes India's best combination should have been of three fast bowlers and two spinners in Ashwin and Jadeja, even though Shardul Thakur picked up 2/41 and Mohammed Siraj returned 1/48

"India could beat themselves by not picking the right side. We’re talking about two senior spin bowlers who have bowled a lot of overs in Test cricket, who understand the game, who control the game even if the ball is not turning and still have a positive impact. So for me, as an English man, I’m over the moon with this Indian team because I think Ravichandran Ashwin should have been playing for India, alongside Jadeja," he added.

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