Two things from India’s playing XI for the fifth Test against England at the Oval made headlines. The selection of Hanuma Vihari in the team ahead of Karun Nair and the omission of R Ashwin due to injury.
During the toss, Indian captain Virat Kohli said that out of the two changes made for the fifth Test, one is a forced one as Ashwin has aggravated his niggle. Again the key word to note here is ‘aggravated’ which means that Ashwin was already injured and by playing in the fourth Test, he simply increased the severity of his injury.
And Ashwin not being picked here is an admission that he wasn't fully fit at Southampton
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 7, 2018
— APRAMEYA .C (@APRAMEYAC) September 7, 2018
Ashwin was, in fact, struggling with fitness from the third Test. But he did feature in the fourth Test and the team management claimed that the off-spinner was completely fit. However, Ashwin fared poorly in Test and his failure was vital to the game as the other off-spinner in the match, Moeen Ali picked nine wickets and steered England home.
Ashwin’s performance in the fourth Test, especially his failure to extract assistance from the rough in the third innings drew a lot of criticism and some even blamed the spinner for India’s defeat.
There is never one factor that decides the result of a Test. But in the final essay the difference between Moeen & Ashwin proved to be the difference between the two sides.#ENGvIND
— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) September 2, 2018
Interestingly, after the fourth Test, the Indian team management claimed that Ashwin was fully fit. The Indian coach Ravi Shastri when asked about the reason for Ashwin’s failure said that it was for everyone to see as the England spinner hit those rough patches more than Ashwin.
But Kohli’s statement at the toss has made it clear that Ashwin was indeed unfit for the fourth Test. This revelation by Kohli left the fans fuming and some of them vented their disappointment on Twitter.
First, they played half fit Bhuvi in the final ODI we lost the series again they committed the same mistake by playing half fit Ashwin and cost us the all-important test series.
If still, you're backing this team management then you have to change your opinion.#ENGvIND
— Mr. A 🏏 (@cricdrugs) September 5, 2018
Finally #Kohli admits that #Ashwin was not fit. So he and #Shastri lied to the press and the fans. Also, congrats to #Vihari fantastic crickter and is sure to be a success. However, why bother having Karun Nair, when he was never in contention for a place. #captainclueless #lies
— KP (Krishna Prasad) (@kppadukudru) September 7, 2018
This is not the first time India played a half-fit player in a game. Earlier in the ODI series against England, India fielded Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the final ODI who aggravated his injury and had to miss out on the entire Test series.