India surprised many by their team selection at the toss in the first of the five-match Test series against England at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. This was the first indication of the trend India could follow for the rest of the series. 

While KL Rahul looked to be the certainty as to the opener with both Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal not available, there were wholesale changes as far as the lower order and the bowling attack was concerned.

From the XI that played in the World Test Championship final, India made three changes. The bowling combination changed from three seamers and two spinners to four-seamers and one spinner. The spinners role fell to the left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who offered something in all the three departments, Leaving out spin wizard Ravichandran Ashwin.

Ravichandran Ashwin's exclusion from India's playing XI in the ongoing Test series against England came as a shock to many given the senior spinner's exceptional form in the last couple of Test series. Ashwin is left out of the XI as India plays out the second match of the series, with the first match ending in a draw. Today we discuss the reasons why Ashwin should be playing in Team India first XI.

1) Ashwin’s record as a spinner 

Ashwin holds a phenomenal record as a bowler in Test matches. The Indian wizard was the leading wicket-taker in the inaugural; WTC cycle, bagging 71 wickets from 14 matches with an average of 20.33. He is also currently India’s leading wicket-taker in Tests among active bowlers claiming more than 400 scalps with thirty fifers and seven 10-wicket hauls. Bringing in heaps of wicket-taking ability, this is something for Team India to utilize on. 

Ravichandran Ashwin is also ranked No.2 in the ICC Test bowlers rankings with a rating of 856.

# Ashwin is the fastest to pick 350 wickets in Test matches (66 matches)


2) Ashwin’s batting ability 

Being no slouch with the bat, Ravichandran Ashwin has certainly stood out with the bat and has played crucial roles on the crease for India. A recent instance was during Australia versus India test match series, where Hanuman Vihari and Ashwin dug out deep in the crease to beat all odds and save the test match for India. He has also scored runs on the plenty with more than 2500 runs with 5 centuries to his name.

With his exceptional skill with both the bat and ball, he stands to be the World’s 4th best all-rounder according to ICC and gives us furthermore reasons to include him in the playing Xl.


Did you know?

Ashwin began his career as an opening batsman and he also used to open for the Tamil Nadu state team. But his ability to turn the ball stood out more than his ability with the wood.

3) His experience

Ashwin brings bucket loads of experience to this bowling lineup, which is clearly something lacking in the team. The next best-experienced bowler playing will be Mohammed Shami who has played 53 matches, following Jasprit Bumrah who has played 22 Test matches. In times of trouble, or when the bowling goes stale, it's absolutely invaluable to have an experienced calm head who could thread the rough times.


4) His skill set does not depend on the pitch 

While many cited his success to the spin pitches in India, his recent evolution has involved a marked shift in performance on away tours. Among all spinners in overseas games in Test cricket since 2015, the 34-year old holds the second-best bowling average with 25.64, and the third-best strike rate which amounts to 54.44. Adding wit and guile to his arsenal, Ashwin has proven he is more a bowler than the pitch has to offer.

Let us take a look at Ashwin’s record at a few of the venues which are known to be an absolute belter for the batsmen.

Adelaide Oval316
Sydney Cricket Ground37
Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, North Sound, Antigua17
Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo211
MCG Cricket ground314

5) Previous performances in England and other Nations

The foxy off-spinner has also been a top performer when it comes to away performances. Ashwin has picked up 14 wickets against England in England. Furthermore, the World’s No.2 ranked bowler in Tests has made a mark for himself in providing important breakthroughs in crucial matches. 

Let us have a look at Ashwin’s record against every other Test-playing Nation in home and away conditions.

OpponentMatches (H/A)Wickets (H/A)
South Africa7/346/7
New Zealand5/145/3
West Indies7/443/17
Sri Lanka3/612/38

# With 88 wickets against England, Ashwin also stands to be the third-highest wicket-taker against England Tests after BA Chandrasekhar (95) and Anil Kumble (92). 

Ravichandran Ashwin is also ranked third in the list of players with the most Man of the Series Awards in the longest format of the game (8). With age on his side, he is very much on course to break Muttiah Muralitharan’s record of 11.

Do you think Team India’s management and the Indian skipper Virat Kohli made a huge mistake by leaving out India’s leading wicket-taker? With the first Test being settled for stalemate, we will have to wait for the result of the second Test to find an answer. 

Do let us know what you think in the comments and also stay tuned with Cricwizz as we bring you more exclusive content on the second most followed sport in the world.