India were desperately looking for a wicket or two after setting a target of 368 for hosts England who began their chase on the penultimate day of the fourth Test at The Oval on Sunday. Despite a few close calls, England ended the day unscathed with openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed remaining unbeaten at 31* and 43* respectively. While Ravindra Jadeja did target the rough patches in a bid to yield a wicket, there was, unfortunately, no success met. Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Siraj too went wicketless. At 77/0, England now need 291 runs to win the Test match with an entire day’s of cricket left.
It was then cricket fans desperately looked for Ravichandran Ashwin, the No 2 Test bowler in the world, to take a wicket and put the hosts under pressure. The off-spinner and the leading wicket-taker, however, has been excluded from the playing XI and can only watch the match from the sidelines.
If Ashwin’s absence wasn’t cruel enough for the fans, the off-spinner was spotted seated at an empty stand, all by himself.
“What a disgrace. One of the best players in the last decade is being ruined," a Twitter user wrote.
India missing this man soo badly 😢 pic.twitter.com/8oDVx5QgIb
— Varad Ralegaonkar (@varadr_tistic) September 5, 2021
During the announcement of the Indian squad, cricket pundits to fans to celebrities, several voiced their opinion as to how Ashwin could be ignored.
Reacting to the decision of Indian selectors, Shashi Tharoor wrote: “I can’t believe they left out Ashwin again, on England’s most spin-friendly ground. This team is unbelievable. You pick your five best bowlers, @ashwinravi99 has to be the first or second name. Omitting him & @MdShami11 at the Oval is like a death-wish — as if you want to lose!"
Taking the jibe forward on the First Day of the 4th Test was none other than Ashwin’s wife Prithi Ashwin, an ardent fan of the sport, who came up with an interesting take on the entire hullabaloo that unfolded online.
The video shared by Prithi showed the couple’s daughter “looking" for Ashwin at The Oval.
Can India win this Test match without Ashwin or will the hosts dominate the run chase? You can catch the live action here to find out.