Surprised that India didn’t pick Ravichandran Ashwin and Rohit Sharma for Antigua Test: Sourav Ganguly
Sourav Ganguly (IANS Photo)

India‘s choice of playing XI for the ongoing first Test against West Indies in Antigua has drawn a lot of criticism. While there have been questions on why Test specialist wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha was not preferred over Rishabh Pant and why Hanuma Vihari pipped Rohit Sharma, the biggest move that was baffling was the exclusion of premier offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin and chinaman Kuldeep Yadav.

READ: Gavaskar “astonished” at Ashwin’s omission in Antigua

What has added more meat to Ashwin’s snub was the Tamil Nadu tweaker’s record against West Indies. In 11 Tests against them, he has 60 wickets. The last time he played there (2016-17), he was the Man of the Series with 17 wickets in three games, and 350 runs.

Former India captain Sourav Ganguly says that he is surprised to see both the spinners left out with only Ravindra Jadeja as the lone option in the playing XI for the first Test.

READ: Rahane leads India’s recovery in Antigua

“Yes, I was surprised that the team did not pick Ashwin and Rohit. I was also surprised to see Kuldeep Yadav was left out because the last Test he played against Australia (4th Test in Sydney where Kuldeep picked 5/99 in the first innings), if you remember in Sydney, on a good flat pitch, he picked up five wickets,” the 47-year-old said on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai on Friday.

He added, “Jadeja also has been in good form and the surface yesterday at Antigua needed three fast bowlers because we saw seam movement the fast bowlers got, so it was a question about spin. Ashwin’s record is phenomenal to leave him out in the West Indies. It’s a decision which Kohli has made and we will find out in next couple of days how far Jadeja goes on to pick wickets on this surface because this pitch will get up and down as the game progresses.”

Ganguly also advised the India captain to remain consistent with selection. “This is one area where Virat (Kohli) needs to just be a bit more consistent. Pick players and give them a bit more opportunities for them to get that confidence and rhythm. You saw how Shreyas Iyer played in that ODI series (against West Indies), you pick him and give him the freedom to play those matches. I think that needs to happen with a lot of players and I am sure Virat will do that,” he said.