India's longest tail in 21 years seems to have left an unnecessary imbalance

Ravichandran Ashwin

Ollie Phillips

Shardul Thakur picked up a knock in practice that has ruled him out for India's second Test against England at Lord's, and the seamer has been replaced by Ishant Sharma. It is not an impossible decision to understand given the conditions at Lord's and Ishant's success both in England and more recently at home, but it does leave the tourists rather light with the bat.

Their top order is probably the best in the world, but India will now statistically be fielding their longest tail in a Test match since 2000, based on the batting average of the fourth 'worst' batsman before the beginning of the game. Their 1990s-esque tail of Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah averages 11.23, 8.25, 11.5 and 3.55 respectively.

Write them off at your peril, of course, after the much-maligned bottom order made considerably useful runs in the first Test match at Lord's, but to continue to overlook the inclusion of Ravichandran Ashwin, that cricketer of such all-round class no matter the location or the conditions, does seem perplexing.

Ashwin is the best off-spinner in the world and has five Test match centuries and eleven fifties. It seems one of the ways India's superiority as a side may not shine fully through on this tour could be this apparent lack of balance and the absence of one of the world's premier all-rounders.