India vs West Indies: Ajinkya Rahane explains reasons behind R Ashwin’s exclusion from India’s playing XI
Captain Virat Kohli thew in a big surprise at toss time by revealing that off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin - India’s highest wicket taker in Tests in the current team - was not included in the playing XI for the first Test against West Indies in Antigua. India, instead, opted for Ravindra Jadeja as the lone specialist spinner in the side, along with three fast bowlers - Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah. The selection drew criticism from cricket fraternity with many suggesting that the selectors made a blunder in team selection.
But speaking to reporters after the day’s play, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane explained why Ashwin was not considered for selection in India’s first match of World Test Championships. “It’s difficult when you miss a player like Ashwin but team management is always thinking as to what is the best combination. They thought Jadeja was a good option on this wicket as we needed a sixth batsman, who can actually bowl. Vihari can actually bowl on this track. So that was the communication between captain and coach,” the batsman said.
“It is hard to find players like Ashwin and Rohit (Sharma) sit out but’s all for the team,” Rahane he added.
Earlier, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar had expressed his “astonishment” at the exclusion of senior off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin from the playing XI against West Indies, a team against whom he has done exceedingly well. Ashwin has scored 552 runs with four hundreds and taken 60 wickets with four five-fors against the West Indies in 11 Tests (home and away).
“A man with that kind of record, especially against West Indies. He doesn’t find a place in this playing XI. That is stunning. Astonishing,” Gavaskar had said, hardly able to suppress his anger.
India finished 203/6 at stumps in the rain-curtailed day with Rishabh Pant and Jadeja in the middle. Rahane remained the top-scorer with 81 runs on the board.
(With agency inputs)