'India could beat themselves by not picking the right side' - Steve Harmison on Ravi Ashwin's omission

India skipper Virat Kohli went with the sole spinner.

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Stephen Harmison
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Steve Harmison. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Team India skipper Virat Kohli stunned everyone at the toss by not including his premier off-spinner Ravi Ashwin in the lineup for the first Test against England in Trent Bridge. He instead went with a sole spinner in Ravindra Jadeja and four pacers Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, and Jasprit Bumrah.

Although, this bold decision from Kohli didn’t come to haunt at least in the first innings, as his bowlers bunded the home team out for just 183. But things could change quickly in the second innings if India batters fail to post a big score in their first innings. Notably, Ashwin’s exclusion from the team is surprising because of his good outing for Surrey in the country circuit. He picked up seven wickets in the game and was easily the side’s best bowler.

Speaking about Ashwin’s exclusion from the playing XI, former England pacer Steve Harmison spoke about how the Indian off-spinner’s omission would be helpful for England in Trent Bridge.

“I’m surprised; I’m very surprised. I think the England cricket team might be having a little smile in that dressing room and thinking ‘we’re happy with Ashwin not playing’. He got runs with the bat; he was unbelievable with the ball in India. Ashwin has got a ridiculous number of wickets in English conditions. He played County cricket, got six (seven) wickets against Surrey not long ago,” Harmison told ESPNCricinfo.

Steve Harmison reckons Ravi Ashwin is great at controlling the game in middle overs

India batters didn’t lose a wicket in reply to England’s 183. Harmison though reckoned by having Ashwin in the team could have helped control the middle overs along with Jadeja. He went on to state that if the ball was not turning, Ashwin could have still been handy.

“India could beat themselves by not picking the right side. We’re talking about two senior spin bowlers who have bowled a lot of overs in Test cricket, who understand the game, who control the game even if the ball is not turning and still have a positive impact. So for me, as an English man, I’m over the moon with this Indian team because I think Ravichandran Ashwin should have been playing for India, alongside Jadeja,” he added.

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