Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin had both scalped 7 wickets each in their last Test match against Sri Lanka in Colombo. The duo will now feature in the Indian national cricket team after 101 days, having missed on the 2 back to back limited over series against Australia and New Zealand. When India were trying it hard to get over the sturdy New Zealand batting line up in the recently concluded T20 and ODI series, there was something missing with the ball which had perhaps sent India on the back foot in the majority of games. Despite having two specialist strike bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, the wicket-taking pedigree of Ashwin and Jadeja was being missed largely.
Now the two wrist magicians will unite to lead the spin pack for India, Hardik Pandya’s absence makes it a perfect opportunity for both Ashwin and Jadeja to grab. Skipper Virat Kohli would relish the idea of fielding the two spinners with three fast bowlers and six pure batsmen. In four games that he played for English County side Worcestershire, Ashwin picked up 20 wickets and returned back to India to represent Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy. He then went on to add 11 wickets to his Ranji Trophy tally, representing Tamil Nadu in 3 games.
Ravindra Jadeja, on the other hand, was on fire with both bat and the ball in the Ranji circuit representing Saurashtra. In his first game of the season after a gap of almost 45 days, Jadeja blasted a double century against Jammu and Kashmir in Rajkot and finished the game as the most impactful player with 7 wickets to his name. A total of 251 runs and 10 wickets in 3 games was enough for the selectors to call him back in the Test squad against Sri Lanka.
The Lankans have won their last two Test matches against Pakistan, courtesy of a strong batting display by their top order. On their day, the likes of Dinesh Chandimal, Dimuth Karunaratne and Niroshan Dickwella can be run juggernauts who can turn the game around with the bat for their sides. Having two confident presence in Ashwin and Jadeja would help Virat put pressure on the opposition and get better of them. The right-hand, left-hand pair who has also played for Chennai Super Kings for a few IPL seasons are a lethal prospect and capable of terrorising any batting line-up.
The two can contribute significantly with the bat too and have considerable experience of playing crucial knocks in the longer format of the game. For Virat, it will be an ideal situation to play Ashwin and Jadeja as spin all-rounders and back them with 3 proper pacers in Shami, Bhuvneshwar and Umesh. The six batsmen would also be a tough pick for Virat with Dhawan, Rohit, Rahul all in contention. However, it’s going to be a good headache to take for Virat when he pens the playing 11 for the 1st Test game at the Eden Gardens.
India’s predicted 11 for the first Test match against Sri Lanka
Virat Kohli (c), Murali Vijay, Rahane, Pujara, Rohit, Saha, Jadeja, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar, Shami, Umesh