Virat Kohli wasn’t keen to have Ravi Ashwin in the Champions Trophy squad?

The off-spinner has easily been India's most successful bowler in recent times, and despite his consistent performances, he was rested for India's first two fixtures in the Champions Trophy.

Virat Kohli of India
Virat Kohli of India. (Photo by Christopher Lee-IDI/IDI via Getty Images)

Defending champions India find themselves in a sticky position in the ongoing edition of the ICC Champions Trophy in England. Virat Kohli’s boys will face South Africa in a virtual quarter-final, and all eyes will be on the playing XI, which is likely to undergo some changes after a defeat at the hands of the Sri Lankans.

One name in particular which has surprisingly not featured in India’s starting XI is Ravichandran Ashwin. The off-spinner has easily been India’s most successful bowler in recent times, and despite his consistent performances, he wasn’t considered for Team India’s first two fixtures in the Champions Trophy.


Ravi Ashwin has lost his sheen?

India particularly missed Ashwin’s services during their clash against Sri Lanka when their top three batsmen were making light work of the Indian pacers. Umesh and Hardik Pandya were particularly expensive, and Ravindra Jadeja, the only front-line spinner in the team, didn’t have a considerable impact either.

So the question still stands, how is that Ashwin wasn’t considered for the last couple of games? According to skipper Virat Kohli, Ashwin understands the “dynamics” of team composition and doesn’t mind sitting out for a cause. He also mentioned about times when both of them have had “disagreements”, which are however specifically related to on-field technical issues and have nothing to do with selection matters.

Virat Kohli favoured other spinners over Ashwin

What comes as a surprise is that reports suggest Virat wasn’t keen on bringing Ravichandran Ashwin to England for the mega-event in the first place. Kohli, in fact, floated names of two other spinners whom he would have liked to see donning national colours. He was in favour of having Yuzvendra Chahal and Shahbaaz Nadeem instead of Ashwin. While Nadeem’s name was struck down as there’s already a Jadeja, Chahal was considered seriously, before the selectors opted to go with its more experienced candidate Ashwin.

Resting Ashwin at a time when everything is not going smooth in the Indian dressing room has raised doubts over whether this has something to do with Kohli-Anil Kumble episode. Virat has made some questionable calls, notably promoting Hardik Pandya over MS Dhoni, and playing Umesh Yadav over the more accurate Mohammed Shami.

However, Kohli’s explanation for Umesh’s selection was that Shami lacked match practice as he had not figured in ODIs for a long time due to injury lay off. Such was his clarification despite the fact that Shami looked completely fit and impressive during the practice games that India played after arriving in England.