A classic off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin made his 21st Test five-wicket haul on the home town, picked up in his very first Test appearance since December last year.
Ashwin is now just three wickets away from reaching the landmark of 350 Test wickets. If he scalps those in the ongoing Visakhapatnam Test itself, Ashwin will be tied-fastest to the milestone (66 Tests), on par with the greatest wicket-taker of India.
Having a breakneck and record pace in achieving an enormous haul, the Indian team management, led by captain Virat Kohli, consistently keep him out of the side. It was since January 2018, Ashwin was seen missing seven Test matches that India have played, in which three of them were due to injury.
Ashwin was not picked in Johannesburg last year, in Sydney this year and also the two-match Test series in the West Indies after the World Cup. Earlier, Kohli dropped Ashwin from his team when he captained for the first time in the Test cricket, during the Adelaide Test of 2014.
Ashwin’s exclusion from the final Test of India’s historic series win in Australia this year was perhaps the most curious case of the lot. A day before the Sydney match Kohli announced in the press-conference that Ashwin was ruled out with an injury. Two hours later when the team management announced a 13-man squad, Ashwin’s name was seen in it.
“Ashwin should be a certainty. The fact that he has not been made to feel the comfort level is the reason why we are seeing him struggle a little bit. Somebody who has got almost 350 wickets can’t be sidelined as regularly as he has been.” – Sunil Gavaskar said.
Harbhajan Singh, Test cricket’s second most successful off-spinner, tried to guess the team management’s thought process with respect to Ashwin.
“I think he is not a regular maybe because when we are touring abroad, the team management wants a match-winner on wickets that are not so conducive to spin bowling. This is why I think he isn’t a certainty. Having said that, taking 350 wickets so quickly is a great achievement.” – Harbhajan told.
Meanwhile, Ashwin spoke at the press in Vizag about what it felt like to not be a part of the Indian team for close to a year.
“I stopped reading about the game and I actually stopped watching the game for a brief period of time. I felt like every time I watched the game on TV, I wanted to play. I just wanted to play. I thought I was missing out from the team.” – Ashwin said.