Ravichandran Ashwin
R Ashwin (AFP Photo)

Worcestershire have been dealt a major blow in their bid to avoid relegation from County Championship Divison One after India off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin was ruled out of their final two matches of the season.

Ashwin aggravated a groin injury during the fourth Test against England in Southampton which forced him to miss the ongoing fifth and final Test at The Oval.

He was to stay back in England after the conclusion of the five-Test series to join Worcestershire. However, he won’t be able to link up with the county side for a second spell after helping them secure promotion last season. Ashwin took 20 wickets apart from also scoring handy runs when he joined them last season for four Championship matches.

BCCI had earlier cleared him for the stint ahead of the England Test series.

Worcestershire will also miss the services of New Zealand top-order batsman Martin Guptill due to injury for Vitality T20 Blast finals to be held at Edgbaston next eweek.

In seven T20s earlier this summer, he scored 253 runs at an average of 36.14. It included a 35-ball hundred – the second fastest in England T20 domestic history. He was playing for Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League during which he injured his hamstring.

“It’s a shame Ravichandran Ashwin will not be able to return to us because he made such a big impact here in 2017 and was keen to come back,” Worcestershire CEO Matt Rawnsley said. “He has gone on record about how much he enjoyed it here last summer. But the injury he has been struggling with in the Test series against England means that it is not possible and we wish him all the best and a speedy recovery.

Worcestershire are still considering options for Ashwin. “We are exploring our options for an overseas replacement for the final two Championship matches. The news is not good regarding Martin Guptill either. We had been in touch about whether there was a chance of him coming back for finals day,” he said.