Following a torrid day one of the World Test Championship (WTC) final against Australia at the Kennington Oval, Team India bowling coach Paras Mhambrey fronted up to the media and defended their selection combination. The former cricketer admitted it was challenging to omit Ravichandran Ashwin, but felt the overhead conditions forced them to do it.
Ravichandran Ashwin's omission was the biggest talking point on day one of the marquee fixture as India played four seamers, while Ravindra Jadeja was the lone spinner. While Jadeja went wicketless throughout the day, the four seamers in Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Siraj, and Mohammed Shami managed only three scalps between them as Australia reached 327-3 by close. With the pitch offering some drift and turn, several experts have slammed the decision to drop Ashwin.
Mhambrey reflected that the decision to play four seamers have reaped rewards in the past, but lamented the lack of discipline in India's bowling and conceded a few extra runs.
"It's always a very difficult decision to drop a champion bowler like that. But I thought looking at the conditions in the morning, having the additional seamer would definitely be beneficial. And it also has worked in the past. If you look at the earlier games that we’ve played, the last Test match, we went in with four seamers which did really well. In terms of the bowling, I thought we could have been more disciplined. I thought we started off very well for the first 12-15 overs when we really bowled in the right areas," the 50-year-old told during a press conference.
Paras Mhambrey felt India should have attacked Travis Head earlier:
With Head, who stayed unbeaten at 146, struggling when India pulled their lengths back, especially against those on the body, Mhambrey conceded that India used the ploy when the left-hander was well set.
"We always felt that that was an area that we could exploit against him. But yeah, as you said, we could have done it a little earlier, maybe 30-40 runs earlier. But you've got to trust the captain. I think you also go with his instincts, and he felt maybe that the situation wasn't right to use that kind of a strategy. But I thought we could have done it a little earlier."
Head and Steve Smith combined for an unbroken 251-run stand as India failed to take a wicket in the final two sessions of the day.