India’s team composition was a major topic of debate ahead of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia, which got underway on June 7 at the Oval.
While some experts opined that India should go with two spinners and three pacers in their playing XI, a few of them stated that playing four fast bowlers is the way to go in English conditions.
As it turned out, India went with the combination of three premier pacers, one seam-bowling all-rounder and a spinner considering the overcast conditions and a green-tinged pitch at the Oval.
The No. 1 ranked Test spinner R Ashwin was left out of the playing XI as the likes of Mohammad Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Shardul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja formed the bowling attack.
As expected, the decision to axe Ashwin triggered an outrage. Former England skipper Michael Vaughan tweeted that India made a mistake by dropping the ace off-spinner.
"No @ashwinravi99 for #India is a big mistake .. !! #WTC2023," Vaughan wrote.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting also gave his take on Ashwin’s omission from the WTC final line-up.
"India have fallen into the trap of picking an attack for the first inning of this Test match only," Ponting said during commentary in the first session.
"The reason why I was surprised that Ashwin was left out is because of the number of left-handers Australia have. There's no doubt in my mind that Ashwin would have bowled a lot better than Jadeja later on in the Test. The big decision that they had to make was between Thakur and Umesh. I was leaning towards Thakur because he would be my workhorse to give a bit of a break to the strike bowlers Shami and Siraj. You can go to Jadeja for a couple of overs just to tie the game down a bit," he added.
Sharing his thoughts on India’s XI, former skipper Sourav Ganguly said while it is a difficult call to leave out Ashwin, playing four spinners have worked for the Indian team in the past in English conditions.
"See it's an afterthought. And I don't believe in afterthoughts. As a captain, you take a decision before the toss and India had decided that they would go in with 4 fast bowlers. Having said that, in the last couple of years they have had success in the last couple of years with 4 pacers. They've won Test matches but if you ask me... if I was captaining - and every captain is different - Rohit and I think differently. I would find it very hard to keep a spinner out of Ashwin's quality out of the XI," Ganguly said on Star Sports at the lunch break.