Many including batting great Sunil Gavaskar and former England cricketer Nick Compton may find it 'stunning' and 'astonishing' to see Ravichandran Ashwin failing to make the XI in West Indies, but head coach Ravi Shastri has gone the extra mile to drive Indian team management's point home. (More Cricket News)
India have fielded an unchanged XI in the second Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park, Jamaica with Ravindra Jadeja playing as the lead spinner. According to Shastri, Jadeja's improved batting and more control on a flat deck has prompted his selection ahead of a champion bowler like Ashwin in the playing XI.
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Jadeja's selection in the playing XI ahead of Ashwin, who had a proven record against the West Indies, chocked none other than Gavaskar but the all-rounder silenced everyone with an under-pressure half-century and a couple of wickets in the first Test.
"Look at Jaddu, his record is fabulous. You have to see what he brings to the table. He is probably best fielder in the world now and he has improved his batting like hell," Shastri told former England spinner Graeme Swann during an interview for hosts broadcaster "Sony" on Saturday.
Ashwin has always been found wanting on flat tracks outside the sub-continent. But, in 11 Tests against West Indies, Ashwin has 60 wickets at an average of 21.85, and has also scored four hundreds.
While Shastri didn't speak about the Tamil Nadu off-spinner's weakness but did speak about what stood out for Jadeja as a spinner.
"And if you see these tracks (North Sound and Kingston). From what I have seen of this track (Kingston), I don't think there would be much on offer for the spinners where you would need control," said Shastri.
On his selection in the first Test, Shastri said that Jadeja's ability to bowl on a damp wicket in the first session of a Test match was factored in.
"The reason why we picked Jadeja in the first Test, was in case we fielded, and the track was damp, with his pace, he would have made life little awkward for the batsmen. He could have been used on the first session of play on Day One.
"That was the reason why we picked Jadeja even though Ash (Ashwin) is a world-class spinner. It is difficult decision to leave out Ashwin or Kuldeep (Yadav)," said Shastri.
Gavaskar had said about Ashwin’s exclusion on commentary: “[The selection] astonished me. A man with that kind of record, especially against the West Indies. He doesn’t find a place in this playing XI. That is stunning. Astonishing.”
(With PTI inputs)