Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

India captain Rohit Sharma took about 55 minutes and 15 overs to throw the ball to their main strike bowler Ravichandran Ashwin in the morning session of Day Two in the ongoing third Test against Australia at the Holkar Stadium in Indore on Thursday. 

The hosts started proceedings with Mohammed Siraj and Ravindra Jadeja. Then they went to Axar Patel before finally deciding to use Ashwin. However, overnight batters Peter Handscomb and Cameron Green got off to a solid start by then.

Several experts including former India cricketers Sunil Gavaskar, Ajit Agarkar, Ravi Shastri and former Australia pacer Mitchell Johnson slammed the tactic of Rohit for giving the bowling opportunity to Ashwin after such a long period of time. As per them, this could be the main reason why Australia were able to extend their lead.

Former India captain and legendry batsman Gavaskar was not convinced by Rohit’s ploy of perhaps paying more attention to the match-ups instead of the quality of the cricketer.

“I don’t understand this too much focus on the match-up thing. Because there were two right-handers in the crease, Ashwin wasn’t brought on till the last over before the drinks break. He is a top player, he is going to get wickets. It doesn’t matter if it’s a right-hander or a left-hander. He is a great bowler. Ashwin has 450-plus wickets and he should have been given the ball a lot earlier,” said the little master.

Former India pacer Agarkar said he was baffled by the late introduction of Ashwin.

“Ashwin is India’s premier bowler and he has bowled only 16 overs so far. Axar Patel is playing as a specialist spinner but got to go to Ashwin. It’s baffling,” said Agarkar.

Shastri and Johnson also echoed the same views and expressed surprise over the late introduction of the World No.1 bowler into the attack.

India faced a batting debacle again and were bowled out for 163 runs in their second essay with Cheteshwar Pujara (59) putting up a lone fight. Nathon Lyon (8/64) was the pick of the bowlers for the visitors.