New Delhi: India spinner R Ashwin appears a doubtful starter in the fifth Test against England starting at the Oval tomorrow. Ashwin did not bowl in the nets as India trained at the Oval on Wednesday ahead of the fifth Test.
Ashwin’s injury and lack of form could well open the doors for Ravindra Jadeja. The left-arm orthodox spinner was heavily involved during the practice session. Importantly, he spent plenty of time batting in nets and was seen chatting with assistant coach Sanjay Bangar. Jadeja has not been part of the playing XI outside of Asia since the tour of West Indies 2016. Jadeja, 29, has been earmarked as a sub-continent specialist, but with Ashwin struggling to overcome his hip injury, there is a fair chance that Jadeja could feature at the Oval.
Ashwin, who was troubled by a stiff hip during the third Test in Southampton, was not at his best during the fourth. He took two wickets in the first innings at the Ageas Bowl, and then on a wearing pitch in the second innings returned figures of one for 84 in 37.1 overs.
Jadeja took 26 wickets against England at home in 2017-18 and his low order runs could prove fruitful in the final Test. While India is unlikely to make any drastic changes in the line-up, there is pressure on Hardik Pandya to hold on to his spot. The all-rounder has been decent with the ball, but has really struggled with the bat, scoring 164 runs at 23.42 in four Tests.
Virat Kohli had defended Ashwin’s efforts after the fourth Test, when asked to compare his performance with that of Moeen. “He tried his best. He bowled a lot of overs.
“He pitched the ball in the right areas. He didn’t get the results he would have intended but we all go out there to give our best effort.
“This was one occasion where Ashwin could himself feel he could have got more purchase out of the wicket. If you have to single out his (Moeen’s) performance, I think he was relentless with the areas that he bowled in and the speeds that he bowled at,” the Indian captain had said.
It remains to be seen if India will make changes to the side that played the fourth Test.
Ravindra Jadeja played 36 Test matches for India scoring 1196 runs with an average of 29.17. His highest individual best score was 90.
Moreover, Jadeja took 171 wickets to his name with his best bowling figure of seven for 48. He played his last Test match against Afganistan at Bengaluru. He scored 20 runs in the first innings and took six wickets to his name. Moreover, Jadeja is also an excellent fielder on the ground.