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India vs West Indies: ‘He is no longer the go-to man’ – Harbhajan Singh on R Ashwin’s exclusion from Antigua Test

Out-of-favour India spinner Harbhajan Singh feels Ravichandran Ashwin is no longer the ‘go-to man’ for Team India on overseas tours because of his indifferent performances outside the country in recent times. Ashwin was left out of the playing XI for first Test against West Indies in Antigua and Harbhajan stated he is no longer the team’s premier spinner. In place of Ashwin, India opted to bring in Ravindra Jadeja for the first Test of the two-match series against Jason Holder’s troops.

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“If you see, there have been instances when Ashwin failed miserably in overseas conditions,” Harbhajan was quoted as saying by The Telegraph. “For example, in the fourth Test against England in Southampton in 2018, Moeen Ali finished with a match- haul of nine wickets whereas Ashwin had three wickets in the match.”

“Both are finger spinners, but with different performances. My hunch is that the team management feels when it comes to overseas tours, Ashwin is no longer the go-to man.

“If you see during the Australia tour (in 2018-19), he got injured after the first Test but the team management kept him in the squad, hoping against hope he would recover. He could not. These things weigh a lot when it comes to choosing a first XI. Don’t forget, the Antigua Test is the first we are playing since the Sydney Test in January,” Harbhajan added.

Earlier, former India captain Sunil Gavaskar had expressed his displeasure with the team selection for the first Test. Gavaskar was left disappointment after veteran spin bowler Ravichandran Ashwin missed the cut despite his brilliant record in West Indies.

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“(The selection) astonished me,” Gavaskar said during commentary. “A man with that kind of record, especially against West Indies. He doesn’t find a place in this playing XI. That is stunning. Astonishing.”

Against West Indies, Ashwin has played in 11 matches and has picked up 60 wickets at an average of 21.85 and with a strike rate of 46.2. The last series India played in West Indies was back in 2016, he claimed 17 wickets and was the Man of the Series. Back then, he had raced away to 350 runs.


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