World Cup-winning Australian captain Steve Waugh has become the latest former cricketer to question India’s team selection for the World Test Championship final against Australia, saying it has “picked the wrong side” by not including Ravichandran Ashwin on a tricky pitch.
Waugh’s assessment comes after the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting and Sanjay Manjrekar expressed their surprise at the Indian team management’s decision to take to the field at The Oval without senior off-spinner Ashwin, currently the world’s number one bowler in Tests.
Waugh recalled how Australia made a similar error in the fifth Test at The Oval in 2019, a match which England won by 145 runs after Tim Paine opted to bowl first.
“We made the same blunder four years ago in the Ashes. The Oval is always tricky,” Waugh was quoted as saying by AAP.
“It looks green on top but underneath it is crumbly and a bit dry. You can get lulled into the overcast sky and green pitch and think it is going to do everything. As soon as the sun comes out it is totally different and dries out quickly.
“I do think (India) have picked the wrong side. Spin will play a big part in this Test match and it is going to be up and down.” Waugh added that he would picked Ashwin for his batting, let alone his bowling.
“I would have picked Ashwin for his batting, let alone his bowling. That is why I can’t believe he isn’t playing because he has got five Test centuries as well. It is very strange.” India’s leading wicket-taker in the 2021-2023 WTC cycle, Ashwin lost out to Ravindra Jadeja, who is playing as the only spinner in the team.
The Indian team said Ashwin was not considered for selection in the playing XI owing to the conditions at the Oval.
Batting first, Australia put up 469 after centuries by Steve Smith and Travis Head and then had India in trouble at 151 for five at stumps on the second day.
Ashwin has 474 Test wickets and could have asked some probing questions to the Australian batters, especially the left-handers, with his variations on a pitch that was also offering variable bounce.
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