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India vs England, 1st Test: Sunil Gavaskar, Laxman, Sehwag express shock over R Ashwin missing opening game

New Delhi, Aug 4: Batting great Sunil Gavaskar was critical of India captain Virat Kohli's decision to not pick seasoned campaigner Ravichandran Ashwin in the opening Test against England and said a match-winner like Ashwin deserves to be a part of the Test side.

Kohli preferred leg-spinner Ravindra Jadeja over Ashwin in the series opener and the move left the cricketing fraternity surprised as the experts believed the off-spinner could have played a big role in the team's success on the English soil. Kohli opted to go with a pace heavy bowling line-up as he chose four pacers and a spinner in Jadeja.

While reacting over Team India's decision to bench Ashwin - who was coming from a superb county stint - took 6 for 27 in 15 overs for Surrey. The Tamil Nadu spinner was in action in England about three weeks back but failed to impress his captain.

India vs England, 1st Test: Virat Kohli stuns with decision to prefer Jadeja over Ashwin as England bat firstIndia vs England, 1st Test: Virat Kohli stuns with decision to prefer Jadeja over Ashwin as England bat first

Gavaskar - while speaking in the commentary box for official broadcasters Sony - said, "It's surprising to see a match-winner like Ashwin, who has bagged so many player of the match and player of the series awards in Test cricket, miss a spot in the playing eleven."

India vs England, 1st Test, Day 1: Bumrah, Siraj bag a wicket each as morning session stands sharedIndia vs England, 1st Test, Day 1: Bumrah, Siraj bag a wicket each as morning session stands shared

Former India opener Virender Sehwag also expressed his shock while doing commentary and termed the move as weird. "It was a 'weird' decision because Ashwin is a world-class spinner and the only reason why he couldn't be included in the playing eleven is if he's suffered some niggle or feels completely fit," said Sehwag in the commentary box.

Former India batsman VVS Laxman also backed skilful bowler, Ashwin, who has dominated against the likes of Steve Smith.

"I always felt that Ravichandran Ashwin is a very skilful bowler and what we have seen recently with his overseas performance, they have been brilliant. When India beat Australia in Australia, the way he got rid of Steve Smith consistently shows, how confident he is. When I see the squad here, they have gone with Shardul Thakur, probably as a medium pace option who can also provide some depth in batting," Laxman told ESPNCricinfo.

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Story first published: Wednesday, August 4, 2021, 20:06 [IST]
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