WTC Final: I fail to understand the exclusion of Ashwin, says Tendulkar after India’s defeat

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London, June 11

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar has congratulated Australia on winning the World Test Championship 2023 title but said he still fails to understand the exclusion of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin from the playing XI for the final that India lost by 209 runs.

Australia's victory was set up on Day One of the five-day match by a 285-run partnership between Player of the Match Travis Head (163) and Steve Smith (121) after Australia were sent in to bat first by India. Australia reached 469 in their first innings and India could manage only 296 in response to a key partnership between Ajinkya Rahane (89) and Shardul Thakur (51). Australia declared their second innings at 270/8, setting India a target of 444 runs to win the match.

India had begun the fifth day's play at 164/3 in 40 overs, with hopes brimming of conjuring the highest-ever successful chase in the fourth innings of a Test match, with Virat Kohli (49) and Ajinkya Rahane (46) looking purposeful in their fourth-wicket partnership. However, both of them did not last long and India were all out for 234, with Nathan Lyon claiming 4-41.

Tendulkar said in his tweet that it was Travis Head and Steve Smith that set up the foundation for Australia's win.

"@stevesmith49 and @travishead34 set a solid foundation on Day one itself to tilt the game in their favour. India had to bat big in the first innings to stay in the game, but they couldn't. There were some good moments for Team India, but I fail to understand the exclusion of @ashwinravi99 in the playing XI, who is currently the number one Test bowler in the world," Tendulkar wrote in his tweet.

The 50-year-old Tendulkar, the most successful batsman in Test cricket, said the India team management should not have taken the conditions at The Oval into consideration while excluding Ashwin.

"Like I had mentioned before the match, skillful spinners don't always rely on turning tracks, they use drift in the air and bounce off the surface to disguise their variations. Not to forget, Australia had 5 left-handers out of their top 8 batters," Tendulkar said.

India's bowling coach Paras Mhambrey had defended the team management's decision to go into the match with four pacers and a lone spinner in Ravindra Jadeja because of the apparent seaming conditions. The decision did not go down well with many experts as they all felt that Ashwin should have played the match.

--IANS

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