Confusion reigns over Ashwin injury

R Ashwin

You generally find uncertainty in the camp with a team on the back foot and not the one that is on the prowl. But confusion with regard to the combination and injury concerns to some senior players in a team leading 2-1 in the series was a bit strange to associate with.

There was flip-flop on R Ashwin’s fitness, first ruling him out and then in for contention for the final Test in less than two hours. Ishant Sharma was left out of the final 13-member group and it was only later that the reason came through -- the paceman had a rib-cage discomfort. India also included a third spinner in Kuldeep Yadav, suggesting their unsureness as to how the green-tinged pitch would behave.   

At the start of Virat Kohli’s pre-match press conference here on Wednesday, it was announced that Ashwin wasn’t 100 percent fit and thus he wasn’t available for selection for the fourth Test.

Later, during the course of the media interaction, Kohli even went on to explain how Ashwin, who also failed to finish the England series due to injury, will have to work on what the physio and trainer have asked him to do in order to get fit. The skipper also dwelled on how his injury-forced absence midway through the series affects the team’s strategies or plans.     

“The Ashwin factor, I think it does make you alter your plans a little bit throughout the course of a series,” he said. “But the fact that (Hanuma) Vihari has bowled beautifully whenever we’ve given him the ball, makes us feel absolutely calm about Ashwin not being able to play. It is obviously a disappointment for us as a team and for him personally.”

The Indian team has operated in an evasive manner about injury concerns to its players on this tour. Earlier, when Ravindra Jadeja was left out of the squad for the Perth Test, a move that came in for severe criticism, Kohli backed his decision to field four pacers and said spinner wasn’t an option for him for the second Test which India lost. But in a classic case of left-hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, head coach, Ravi Shastri, in an obvious bid to run down critics, said Jadeja wasn’t completely fit and that he has taken an injection for his stiff left shoulder.

On Wednesday during India’s ‘nets’, Ashwin bowled for about 30 minutes before leaving with trainer Shankar Basu, presumably for his fitness test even as other players continued with their practice.

Before Kohli arrived for the press conference, almost an hour later than the scheduled time, he was seen involved in a deep discussion with Shastri, assistant coach Sanjay Bangar, bowling coach Bharat Arun and the touring media manager. When the announcement was made about Ashwin’s unavailability, you would have thought there is a finality to it.

It’s understandable when you name a player and then leave him out on the day of the match for fitness reasons. But it makes little sense to leave out a player on account of fitness only to include him two hours later.

 

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