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India vs West Indies: Ashwin & Rohit Don't Make Cut For Antigua Test

India took a bold call of leaving out R Ashwin from their playing XI for the first Test against West Indies at North Sound in Antigua. The Virat Kohli-led side instead went in with the lone specialist spinner in Ravindra Jadeja to partner three pacers in the four-bowler side.

Cricketnext Staff |August 23, 2019, 8:49 AM IST
India vs West Indies: Ashwin & Rohit Don't Make Cut For Antigua Test

India took a bold call of leaving out R Ashwin from their playing XI for the first Test against West Indies at North Sound in Antigua. The Virat Kohli-led side instead went in with the lone specialist spinner in Ravindra Jadeja to partner three pacers in the four-bowler side.

India also left out Rohit Sharma and picked Hanuma Vihari for the middle-order slot. Vihari can also chip in with his off-spin - a facet of his game that could have tilted the scale in his favour.

Ashwin has been India's preferred spinner overseas, but frequent fitness issues hurt him last season. He missed the final Test at the Oval during the England tour with an injury, and played only one of India's four Tests in the Australia tour. He picked six wickets in that match in Adelaide, which India won, but has been benched for this game. Kuldeep Yadav too doesn't make the cut.

Jadeja played two Tests in the Australia tour, picking seven wickets. He has been in fine form with the bat in Test cricket over the last year, with scores of 86*, 100* and 81 at Oval, Rajkot (against West Indies) and Sydney respectively.

Vihari has played four Tests with a high score of 56 - his only half-century - at the Oval. He has made a few small contributions in the other matches, and even opened in a temporary arrangement in Melbourne. Rohit made 63* and 5 in that Test match, his last game in the format.

Kohli had spoken about the Rohit v Vihari conundrum on the eve of the game, saying it was a problem of plenty.

"It depends on the combination we want to go with. Vihari has done really well, since he came in he has gone through two difficult tours," said Kohli. "Rohit has also done well in Melbourne. It all depends on what combinations we want to go with.

"Vihari also gives a few overs, he's a solid player. Rohit's quality we all know, we've been seeing it for years.

"It's about who provides the best balance in the XI we want to choose. I'm just happy about guys grabbing the opportunities. As long as there is healthy competition for starting the game or contributing for the team, it's a great thing for Indian cricket. We're all happy about having a problem of plenty."

The rest of the side is as expected, with Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah being the pacers.

West Indies, meanwhile, handed a debut to batsman Shamarh Brooks.

Playing XI:

India XI: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Rishabh Pant(w), Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah

West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope(w), Shamarh Brooks, Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer, Roston Chase, Jason Holder(c), Miguel Cummins, Shannon Gabriel, Kemar Roach​

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