Nottingham, Aug 4: India captain Virat Kohli stunned all with his decision to not include premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in the playing eleven in the opening Test of the five-match series against England.
The first Test between the two sides is being played at Nottingham and English captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat first against India.
India skipper Kohli after losing the toss announced his playing eleven and shocked all as he included all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Shardul Thakur in the side and rested off-spinner R Ashwin and pacer Ishant Sharma.
After the coin didn't land in his favour Kohli said he would have also wished to bat first and said, "Last time England chose to bowl first here, and we would have wanted to bat first as well. We would look to get in with the ball in the first session, and a few early breakthroughs will be handy.
There is a bit of a change up-top, KL Rahul comes in. Our bowling combination is: (Jasprit) Bumrah, (Mohammed) Shami, (Shardul) Thakur, (Mohammed) Siraj and (R) Jadeja as the spinner. You could call it an accumulation of all the hard work we have put in over the years."
Talking about the prospects of winning the Test series and playing the game in front of the audience, Kohli said, "The opportunity to win in England and Australia in the same year is rare. To get opportunities in such times to play and play in front of crowds as well, we are grateful."
Kohli's decision to bench Ashwin came as a shock to the experts. Former India opener Virender Sehwag during the commentary claimed the decision 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.
England captain Joe Root after winning the toss backed the pitch as a reasonable wicket and added that his team would be looking for a good start in the first hour of the day's play.
"We're going to bat first. It looks like a reasonable wicket, (with) a little bit of movement. If we get off to a good start in the first hour, we could capitalize. Always exciting to play a big series like this. And hopefully, we could perform really well."
While announcing his team's playing eleven, Root said: "Jonny Bairstow comes back, Sam Curran comes in as well. It has been so long since we last played. Jack Leach unfortunately misses out; a very tough decision. You've got to pick the best team to pick 20 wickets. As you progress as a Test player, there comes the responsibility and there is an opportunity for the guys to take what Ben Stokes has left in his absence."
England: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root(c), Jonny Bairstow, Daniel Lawrence, Jos Buttler(w), Sam Curran, Ollie Robinson, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
India: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj.