Ravichandran Ashwin was omitted to the dismay of many Indian onlookers for the first Test of the five-match series with England at Trent Bridge. Ravindra Jadeja was favoured, and more than justified his selection, making fifty and bowling with characteristic discipline and liveliness. The point was aptly made that the ability to leave out a player of Ashwin’s calibre shows just how strong this Indian Test team is.
It is hard to counter the claim that India had the better of that first Test, but as the second quickly rolls around, Ashwin will be knocking audibly on the door. He has been a tormenter of England in the recent past, and of spinners with 200 Test wickets since 2011, his have come at a world-leading 5.23 per game, leading Yasir Shah (5.22), Rangana Herath (5.14) and Jadeja himself (4.17).
Ashwin has 413 Test scalps in total, which have come at an average of 24.56, a record made even more remarkable by his ability with the bat, with which he averages 27.7. Put it this way – if I were England, I would be far more comfortable facing Jadeja, magnificent cricketer though he may be. As Thursday approaches, Ashwin’s familiar, foreboding face may just pop around the corner yet again.